By Suzanne Rhodes
Claire Cook is teaching kids how to cook. She’s a senior at the University of Arkansas studying public health and doing an internship at Boys & Girls Club of Fayetteville, otherwise known as Fayetteville Kids. Claire manages Healthy Cooking, a class for children from kindergarten through second grade. Other cooking classes are held for kids in third and fourth grades, and those in fifth and sixth grades.
The day we showed up to see what it was all about, Claire had her lively group of 13 students making fruit and cheese kabobs. They strung long wooden skewers with strawberries, grapes and cheese – and sometimes one of the luscious strawberries didn’t make it to the skewer but went straight into a mouth!
“We talk about why fruits are good for you, and I gave them a coloring sheet to work on after they made the kabobs,” Claire says. “A lot of these kids aren’t very knowledgeable about healthy food. It isn’t something their families always focus on – and fruit can be expensive. I give them something they can do easily at home and that doesn’t cost a lot.”
The children in her class attend Owl Creek Elementary School and come to Fayetteville Kids after school’s out. The class is limited to 20 young cooks. “I like interacting with these kids and teaching them new things and building relationships. I come up with lesson plans.”
“They enjoy making the snacks — and they like to eat them,” Claire noted with a smile.
Macy R., age six, explained why it’s important to eat nutritious food. “You can glow and get healthy when you eat good food like carrots and potatoes.”
The purpose of the class is to inform the children of different forms of healthy food. It’s part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Healthy Habits program that “emphasizes good nutrition, regular physical activity and improving overall well-being.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that started in 1860. At first and for many years, it was called Boys Clubs, but then, in 1990, the leaders realized that girls were part of their cause. So, the name was changed to include girls. And what is the cause, or mission, of this organization that has been making a difference in children’s lives for over 100 years? “To provide a safe place during the out of school time hours, where children are provided with opportunities to reach their full potential and encouraged to pursue their dreams.”
Kids in the kitchen is a fun learning place to be after school. As Nathaniel, 8, piped up to say, “I liked the smoothies!”
Fruit & Cheese Kabobs
Makes 12 skewers
• 8 Sargento® Reduced Fat Colby-Jack Cheese Snacks
• 24 green seedless grapes
• 24 small strawberries
• 4 oz. low fat vanilla yogurt
• Honey (optional)
1. Cut each cheese snack crosswise into 3 pieces. Alternate on skewers with grapes and strawberries.
2. Drizzle honey over the vanilla yogurt and serve as dip for kabobs.
Recipe adapted from Sargento