In Mercer County, What’s Cooking? will be open to all Trenton middle school students to enhance and expand an afterschool program that has been in place for four years. To date, the program existed using donated food and cooking equipment, and community volunteers. Educator Crystol Dyous was awarded a $7,129 grant to include after school classes for students to learn about healthier food choices and cooking skills.

At the beginning of the school year, students and guardians will complete a survey to assess perceptions of food purchases, nutrition and healthy meals, as well as their level of cooking skills. Students will sign up and attend one of the weekly after-school programs which would meet twice a week with 25 students at each session.

Students will learn the fundamentals of cooking such as how to dice, chop, mix, measure, follow recipes, and plan means, and be able to take a meal home to their families. Students will learn how to budget to feed a family of four for $10.00 or less a day. Students will also receive homework help during the after-school program, and have their grades monitored. An end of year celebration will be held for What’s Cookin? where guest “tasters” would be invited to comment on the students’ prepared food.

Students will also share their knowledge through the creation of a What’s Cookin? cookbook. The cookbook will provide information on healthy food choices, budgeting and recipes.

The What’s Cookin? project materials will become part of a permanent after-school program. The program could become a model for other urban schools that would like to address the needs of students who live in high-poverty food desert areas and are challenged by a lack of knowledge and skills to buy nutritious food and prepare healthy meals.

For more information, contact:

Crystol Dyous, Project Coordinator
(609) 656-4841 (school)

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