School’s out for summer and that’s a wrap on our 2018/19 program year, once again our biggest program year to date.
We are very excited to share that thanks to 249 volunteers we were able to bring our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program to 73 classrooms across 13 school districts in B.C. That’s over 1,600 kids learning to grow and cook healthy food!
Every classroom starts our program by planting seeds to start their own indoor windowsill garden. Students then observe and care for their gardens over the course of our three months in their classroom until it is time for us to harvest and cook with what we’ve grown.
As the gardens grow, our chefs introduce kids to new and interesting vegetables, encouraging them to explore new flavours. Our participating teachers observed their students become more willing and interested in trying new foods throughout the course of the program in their classrooms.
Students also learn about nutrition, how foods affects our bodies, and the importance of eating healthy. Entire classrooms would go crazy for second and third helpings of salad made from spinach after hearing how it helps make them stronger. A grade 2 student from one of our classrooms at Van Horne Elementary has even made a habit of showing his teacher the healthy snacks he brings in his lunch every day after their class participated in our healthy salad making lesson.
Every Growing Chefs! lesson involves eating and tasting but no lesson is more exciting for students, teachers, and volunteers alike than our stir fry cooking lesson. Students excitedly sit in their chairs as they watch our chefs go over how to use a knife and demonstrate their knife skills. A grade one class at Tecumseh Elementary even broke out into a chorus of “oo’s and ah’s” as our chef demonstrated how to core and slice a green pepper.
Together students harvest our gardens, washing and laying out all their vegetables, and prepping everything working together in teams. As we start cooking, a murmur of exclamations about the aromas and sounds coming from our sizzling woks starts to spread throughout the group until they cannot contain their enthusiasm and everyone begins talking about how hungry and excited to eat they are.
Servings are dished out and chefs, students, teachers, and even some guests sit down together to enjoy the product of their labours. Seeing the thoughtfulness and pride students take in their creation and participation in our classroom “kitchens” confirms that we have planted the seeds to creating lifelong healthy eaters.
We are so grateful to all of our volunteers and supporters who helped us make this year a success! The impacts you have helped us made are huge:
81% of teachers surveyed agree they saw an improvement in healthy eating habits and healthy food included in student lunches and snacks.
98% of teachers surveyed agree their students’ knowledge about where food comes from and sustainable food systems improved through our program.
100% of teachers surveyed agree that the Growing Chefs! Program improved students willingness to try new foods.