Cooking Matters for Kids

Project Participant: Serena George

Description & overview of project:

Dr. Fink teaches a course called Cooking Matters, which is described as a hunger easement program. It educates adults on how to cook healthy, low-budget meals and how to avoid food waste. I would like to add an educational component for the children in the city of Delaware, with the goal of planning an event that helps them become more excited about eating healthy and cooking with their family.

I volunteer at Willis Education Center with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which is a mentoring program for 25 children grades 5-8. Some of the children in this program have a troubling home life, and a small thing I can do to support a healthy relationship between the children and their parents is to encourage the children to help their parents cook.

Every Tuesday, the children in this mentoring program spend 15 minutes eating a snack and socializing, 45 minutes studying and 30 minutes playing outside. Since exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle (and the kids always have a lot of energy that they need to let out after a long school day), I am hoping to complete educational, cooking and gardening activities with enough time for recess afterwards. (It would be hard for the kids to re-focus after recess, so the recess will come last.)

Children will be given packets explaining MyPlate and the five food groups, then they will be given time to fill out a five-day meal plan that they can discuss with their parents. Each child will receive a letter addressed to their parents explaining the importance of MyPlate. This educational component is planned to last approximately 20 minutes.

I will then show the children how much sugar a glass of lemonade (the drink that is provided for the children every week at Big Brothers Big Sisters) contains, then have them try the healthier alternative of flavored water.

For the next 45 minutes, the children will make their own salsa and combine ingredients to make a yogurt parfait, then plant mint. They will be provided with the salsa recipe, information about local growers (depending on what food is supplied from where) and a handout explaining how to relocate the mint plant. This will be followed by time for recess.

This Cooking Matters for Kids event will take place at Willis Educational Center. I will reach out to the students involved in the Cooking Matters program, other HHK students and members of Veggie Club to recruit help. After contacting Stratford Ecological Center, Tad Peterson from Seminary Hill Farm, Bob Sullivan-Neer from Delaware County Community Market and Tortilleria La Bamba to inquire about plant/food donations, I will write a SIP grant to obtain pots, soil, seeds, chips, salsa and yogurt ingredients (depending on donation amounts), and printer points for colored handouts.

Outline of project:

Educational Component:

I attended a farm to table event hosted by Seminary Hill Farm and the students enrolled in Dr. Fink’s Cooking Matters class. The event started with everyone saying their favorite type of food. I think this would be a good way to start the activity with the kids, then I could transition into explaining MyPlate and what makes a healthy meal. Students will be given the below handout, then I will explain and give examples of the five sub-groups of vegetables (dark-green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other) and the two subgroups of grains (whole grains and refined grains).


Next, the children will be given the below handout and asked to fill out the five-day dinner menu plan (with the help of their mentor). The letter for the parents will also be handed out at this time.

Drink Component:

The second activity of the farm to table event was an activity where we were given cups with different amounts of sugar and had to guess which drink contained what amount of sugar. Lemonade actually contained the most amount of sugar in the farm to table activity. Rather than give the children cups of sugar that they would probably eat, I will bring an example cup showing the amount of sugar one cup of lemonade contains, then substitute the lemonade for water flavored with fresh fruit, like the students who led the farm to table event prepared for us.

Food Component:

Next, the students at the farm to table event taught us knife safety, gave us a recipe for soup, and helped us prepare the meal. Since I can’t trust the children to handle knives, I will pre-slice all ingredients. Rather than making hot food which has the potential to result in burns, I have chosen to prepare chips and salsa (because it incorporates grains and vegetables) and yogurt with fruit (because it incorporates dairy and fruit).

Tubs of yogurt and pre-cut fruit will be laid out for the kids, then they can line up and make their own yogurt parfait. Salsa ingredients will be laid out and the children will combine desired ingredients in their bowls. Half of the children will make yogurt while the other half of the children make salsa, then the groups will switch. Recipes for the salsa and handouts explaining where the local ingredients came from will be given to the students.

Gardening Component:

After the kids are finished eating, they can put some soil in a small pot and plant mint. Instructions will be given about how to transfer the plant outside, which will serve as another bonding activity the children can do with their parents.

Exercise Component:

Children will play outside, as usual, with their mentors.

Potential Problems:

Seminary Hill Farms does not grow tomatoes in the winter, but they may have contacts for other regional growers. Tortilleria La Bamba is the closest tortilla chip seller near Delaware, but it is still far away in Cleveland. Also, it is a small shop and the owners may not be able to afford donating as many tortilla chips as the event would need; however, a SIP grant may cover that cost.


“Cooking Matters @ OWU Health & Kinetics.” Sustainability & Environment @ OWU, 19 Nov.  2014, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This website describes what the Cooking matters program is and provides Dr. Fink’s contact information.

“Serving Up MyPlate A Yummy Curriculum.” Choose MyPlate, sites/default/files/sump_level3.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This packet describes what MyPlate is and explains the subcategories of vegetables and grains in detail. It also provides the 5-day dinner menu plan.

“My Plate at Home.” Choose MyPlate, files/audiences/MyPlateAtHome-adults.pdf. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This is a handout for parents describing the importance of interacting with their children when planning healthy meals. It gives examples of a balanced dinner and explains the importance of exercise.

Tortilleria La Bamaba & La Bamba Foods. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Tortilleria la Bamba was founded in Cleveland, Ohio and is a potential source to buy tortillas and spices. Contact information and order forms are found on this website.

Shah, Vrushabh; Brill, Michelle F. Cooking Brings Kids and Families Together. Visions 24(4): 1.

Research shows that cooking with children helps children establish healthy eating routines, helps to alleviate behavior problems and encourages family “togetherness.”

Anna Wildermuth

Anna is the Delaware County Program Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio. She has confirmed the ability to spend one of the program days carrying out this project, I am working with her to solidify a date and I will contact her again to ask about any potential allergy concerns.

Dr. Chris Fink

Dr. Fink is the advisor of the Cooking Matters program. I contacted him by email and he put me in contact with Sierra Wright.

Sierra Wright

Sierra is the Program Coordinator for Dr. Fink’s Cooking Matters program. She provided me with the idea of yogurt sampling and has offered to contact me before the weekly Cooking Matters program classes to inform me of the topic they will be discussing so that I can decide to attend the class if it will provide information relevant to this event.

Olivia Minervino

Olivia was one of the students who organized the farm to table event that I attended. I will contact her again for tips on organizing a food-related event.

Patrick Kaufman and

Patrick works with Seminary Hill Farm, who donated much of the food for Cooking Matters’ farm to table event. He explained the types of foods MTSO grows each season.

Tad Peterson

Tad is the food service and farm manager at Seminary Hill Farm. I will reach out to him to determine if MTSO would like to donate any food for this event.

Bob Sullivan-Neer

Bob works at Delaware County Community Market. I will explain my project to him and see if he has any input on where to obtain local food needed for this event.

“Growing Mint.” Bonnie Plants, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

This website provides directions for planting mint. Mint should be planted during the         Spring in a moist and partly-shaded area.

“Salsa.” PBS, Accessed 22 Feb. 2017.

This is a salsa recipe with instructions geared towards children.

One Response to Cooking Matters for Kids

  1. espenstalder says:


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