This is the third year that Prince William FCS Extension Agent, SNAP Ed staff, and Master Food Volunteers have collaborated with the Prince William County School Food and Nutrition Services to offer an after school club that teaches middle school students nutrition and cooking skills. There are clubs in all eighteen middle schools: six of the schools are SNAP-Ed eligible, meaning the program assistants and nutrition outreach instructors are the VCE staff in those locations. In the other twelve schools, the agent and Master Food Volunteers offer the education.
The school food service allows us to use the school kitchen, has three staff members to help the students, provides all of the food and supplies, and has chef hats for the students. Virginia Cooperative Extension plans the lesson based on the Family Nutrition Program Teen Cuisine curriculum and selects recipes based on ChooseMyPlate. The clubs meet six times during the school year for an hour to two, depending on the activity bus schedule. Topics and menus so far have included: Eat Smart (turkey chili, black bean and vegetable quesadillas, and blueberry smoothies), You Are What You Eat (turkey burgers with low fat cheese, sweet potato fries, kale chips, and cranberry juice with seltzer) and Power Up with Breakfast (vegetable frittata, carrot pineapple raisin muffins, banana split parfaits, and fizzy orange juice). Food safety is always discussed in relation to the menu items. Previous topics include cooking poultry to the correct temperature and personal hygiene in the kitchen with hand washing and hair restraints.
There are 15-25 students at each school. Students have commented in the kitchen that they love Chef Club and, when asked if they discussed MyPlate at home, one student said “yes, and my mother is annoyed.”
– Nancy Stegon
FCS Extension Agent
Prince William County