In developing the program, the planners considered that many low-income children and families often do not have easy access to healthy, affordable food options in their communities, so education and exposure are especially important. The children visiting the Bank all participate in after-school programming offered by the nonprofit Hudson Guild to families living in New York City Housing Authority properties in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Throughout the fall, their after-school curriculum has emphasized nutrition and physical activity under a common theme of “Healthy Hudson Guild.” The “Culinary Kids” program provided a nice fit with what the children had been learning about for the past several weeks.
Each child was outfitted with an apron and personalized chef’s hat and paired up with a volunteer at one of four cooking stations. Working together, the volunteers and kids carefully crafted a number of healthy recipes including tomato and basil sandwiches on whole wheat bread with low-fat mayonnaise, breaded chicken tenders, and “kabobs” made of fruits, reduced-fat cheese and turkey.
The program also allowed plenty of time for questions and answers from the kids about nutrition and smart food choices, as well as instruction in the basics of food preparation, like frequent hand-washing and the importance of keeping the prep area clean and tidy. At the end, the volunteers and kids were able to sample all the snacks prepared and truly get a taste for healthy eating. For beverages, everyone was served fresh fruit water, a lower-calorie alternative to sugary juice or soda.
“Nutrition and fitness are in the forefront of everyone’s mind,” says Joan Stagg, Regional Head of Conferences and Events, who was instrumental in putting the event together. “We thought ‘Culinary Kids’ was a perfect way to combine an educational and fun program with giving back to the community. [The kids] were well informed and eager to learn about healthy eating and cooking. It was a great experience participating hands-on with the children, and we volunteers probably enjoyed the program just as much, if not more than they did.”
The partnership of Restaurant Associates brought cooking and nutritional expertise to the program’s content. Eamon Manley and Sean Wilson planned a thoughtful event and ensured that the recipes prepared were healthy, quick and kid-friendly. To try the recipes that the kids prepared, please click here.