Students toured the Santa Barbara Farmers' Market to select ingredients for their cooking class.

Students toured the Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market to select ingredients for their cooking class.

Students in the Orfalea Foundation’s REACH Youth Development Program have spent weeks in the wilderness learning self-confidence and self-reliance, participated in college tours to better plan their educational future, received first-aid training to competently deal with emergencies, and, this month, are learning how to shop for and prepare healthy meals.

The REACH program helps prepare young people for healthy, successful lives by providing experiences and educational opportunities geared to help students in the transition to adulthood. “Food literacy makes a huge difference in lifelong health,” says REACH Director Laurel Anderson. “For example, one of our students has already changed her habits after seeing a visual illustration of how much sugar was in her daily Starbucks treat.”

Students gather around Chef Kirsten Criswell for lessons on kitchen safety and healthy nutrition. Students gather around Chef Kirsten Criswell for lessons on kitchen safety and healthy nutrition.

The cooking class lists six goals:

  1. Students will learn how to cook a well-balanced meal.
  2. Students will learn basic kitchen safety.
  3. Students will learn about “added sugars.”
  4. Students will do a “flavor profile” to compare processed and fresh foods.
  5. Students will learn how to make healthy “on the run” snacks.
  6. Students will be introduced to the food journal concept.

The class addresses issues we all face, such as how to cook from scratch within time constraints and procure quality food within budget constraints. Students also get an overview of the physiological and psychological benefits of real food, and reflect on the obstacles that prevent many people from eating a healthy diet.

Students learn an important lesson lost in our convenience-crazed world: it's not very inconvenient to cook delicious, nutritious food, once you know how.

Students learn an important lesson lost in our convenience-crazed world: it’s not very inconvenient to cook delicious, nutritious food, once you know how.

 

The class is taught by a Chef-Instructor from the Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative, in the spirit of “Whole Child Development,” as practiced by the Foundation’s Early Childhood Education, School Food, and Youth Development programs.

The fruits of their labor, and the satisfaction of a job well done and a lesson well learned. The fruits of their labor, and the satisfaction of a job well done and a lesson well learned.

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