This year was a busy one for Project CHEF, the innovative food education program that brings a full kitchen into classrooms around the district. This year, the program visited 14 schools and taught 1,400 students from Kindergarten to Grade 7 the basics of cooking and healthy eating.
Chef Barb Finley, Director of Project CHEF says since she founded five years ago, the program has reached 5,490 students in 74 schools. Finley says that each year the program gets rave reviews from kids, parents, community volunteers, administrators and teachers.
"Every class was excited to cook and try new foods. Children of all abilities were fully engaged in learning and then keen to get home and cook for and with their families," she says. "Does the program make an impact on the lives of children? You bet it does and the best advocates for Project CHEF are the teachers, parents and children we have worked with."
Evaluative data is collected from all program participants and a number of parents commented that the program helped revolutionize their approach to food.
One parent wrote, "My older daughter was fortunate enough to participate in Project CHEF in 2008 and it literally changed our entire family's approach to cooking. Thanks to Project CHEF all my children know about how to be safe in the kitchen and cook and eat healthy food."
Finley says she has a number of highlights from the year, but one that sticks out was a recent visit to Dickens Elementary. During the visit she watched 250 Kindergarten to Grade 4 cooks create a menu that included making 648 muffins, fruit kebabs and milling Agassi grown wheat with bicycles. This end of program celebration was shared with 250 adult guests that included parents and grandparents.
"This celebration of food gives me hope that we can ignite in children and families a passion for real food and a preference for healthier food choices that they can create and enjoy eating together," she says.
To learn more about Project CHEF, watch the short YouTube video below: