For De’Shoin York Friendship, teaching kids to cook is giving them power and responsibility.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of parents work,” she said. “When they get home in the evening, they’re taking kids to McDonald’s or to eat something very quick. We thought we would empower those kids.”
Friendship’s Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods program at the Southern University AgCenter will give kids a nutrition education, kitchen utensils, recipes and the skills needed to cook nutritious meals at home using the government’s MyPlate dietary guidelines. The first session, July 9-13, will be for ages 9 to 11. A second session for older kids, ages 12-14, will be July 23-27. The separate groups are for safety and to allow each program to be tailored to the kids’ abilities and needs, Friendship said. But both will focus on preparing and eating good, nutritious meals.
“You can make chicken nuggets at home and make them much more healthy than fast-food chicken nuggets,” Friendship said.
The camp will be $15 and will include a pack of utensils such as peelers, cutting boards and aprons.
“When they leave, they’re going to have their own utensils to go home and prepare everything we’ve taught them,” Friendship said. “Hopefully, through teaching them, we can reach the family as well.”
Friendship said that though the camp is in its first year, it has already filled all of its spots.
“Registration filled in one week’s time,” she said.
They are hoping to do it every year, she said.
Over at the Young Chefs Academy on Jefferson Highway, teacher Sharon Reynaud said they teach cooking classes year-round for children as young as 3 and up into teenagers.
During the summer, they do have a series of camps, but they do things other times of the year.
“Around Christmas time we do gingerbread houses,” Reynaud said. “Every holiday has a theme.”
The academy also hosts school and organization field trips and birthday parties. This summer, camps for older children run five days and cost $225. For ages 3 to 6, the KinderCooks camps are three days for $90. The younger children in the KinderCooks camps do a lot of the prep work, Reynaud said.
“We read books related to whatever the theme is,” Reynaud said. “For instance, the theme all this month is milk, so they did a macaroni salad that included mayonnaise and milk. They chop, they mix, they measure and pour and stir.”
Older children tackle more involved projects. Reynaud said a recent camp focused on chocolate. Other themes include Vive La France, cupcakes and replicating a restaurant experience.
The Dunham School’s Discover Day Camp also does a week of cooking.
The Creative Cooks in the Kitchen camp runs July 16-20 and costs $160, which includes supplies and food.
Kids entering the fourth and fifth grades attend from 9 a.m. until noon, while those entering the sixth and seventh grades go from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Director Laura Lombardo said the camp, held in the school’s dining hall, teaches cooking skills as well as etiquette and, in the past, has also included a heaping helping of crafting.
“They would get all the little girls and they would make aprons, place settings, napkins and napkin rings and a place mat. By the time they left, they had a recipe book and a whole place setting,” she said. “Last year, they made chefs hats, too.”