Getting The Kids Involved

The following is a blog from NC State student Holly Starks. It is the 2nd in a series of 6 posts she will be writing chronicling her experience as a Nutrition Instructor for a OFL Class she is teaching. If you haven't already, read the 1st Week. Holly is teaching OFL as part of a Service Learning Class that has teamed up North Carolina State Students with the Inter Faith Food Shuttle’s OFL/Nutrition Program. Through this partnership, the Food Shuttle and NC State hope to engage students in service learning and community nutrition while expanding the reach of its OFL program. Our second week with our new Side by Side class at the Crosby Head Start center was packed full of fun and activities this past Tuesday. The kids were encouraged to try new fruits, vegetables, and whole grains during a taste test activity while the parents discussed different approaches for handling eating problems during mealtime. The participants were also able to practice picking out different colors of fruits and vegetables and associating the colors with their health benefits. Afterwards, the teams became “whole grain detectives” and determined if certain foods were actually whole grain or not. During the gardening lesson the families were able to plant their own kale in a pot to grow at home. With the arrival of warm weather, we are all excited to hear about the progress in the growth of their plants in the upcoming weeks!

Salena, our class manager, was especially intrigued by the involvement and enthusiasm of the kids during this class. Salena helped the kids with the taste test activity  and noted, “The kids loved all the fruits, but I found that they were more interest in the ones that were more foreign to them i.e. the kiwi and papaya.” The kids continued to explore their interest and curiosity in the foods by asking questions about the seeds, shapes, and colors. They were also eager to try the different foods multiple times, which is beneficial when introducing new foods since it usually takes kids many times of trying the same foods before they may like it. Salena also helped the kids put the tomato sauce on the English muffins for the mini pizza recipe. “They love spreading the pizza sauce on the English muffins! Interestingly enough, Dorian is a perfectionist and each piece had to have the correct amount of sauce and had to cover the entire bottom.” It’s great to see the kids’ personalities shine through as they are developing skills and healthy habits for later in life. Kids love to have tasks during cooking because it engages them and helps the meal be more meaningful to them when they have the opportunity to help create it. The kids were also given the task of putting the spinach on the mini pizzas. Salena stated, “I gave them directions and showed them how to do it and after that they went off. They repeated my directions word for word and did exactly what I asked.”  Overall, Salena is amazed by the children’s willingness to cooperate and eagerness to be involved in the lessons. It was also great to see the parents working with the kids and encouraging them to learn and participate during the lessons.

The participants’ interest and involvement has reinforced the goal of the Side by Side curriculum to get the parents and kids learning, cooking, and eating healthy together. This class helps to build skills that are both beneficial for the kids and the parents and also encourages family time and bonding, which can be critical to healthy living and development. As I like to say, families that eat healthy together, live healthy together. I encourage you all to get the whole family involved in cooking, while allowing the kids to do fun, age appropriate tasks.

Join us next week to see what else the families’ will learn about and cook!