Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

Kids are chefs at youth program

Posted in Clubhouses, Harriet H. Samuelsson by BGCOP Staff on January 24, 2011

The 17 children at the Boys & Girls Club crowded around as Tami Chrans explained what ingredients they would be using to make an easy, nutritious apple coleslaw, and what foods are healthiest to eat.

Chrans is a registered dietitian and nutrition educator for FOOD Share. The presentation at the Harriet Samuelsson Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme was part of the food bank’s new Kids’ Farmers’ Market.

“The program links nutrition education with actual engagement of students in the recipes,” said Fran McNeill — chief program officer for FOOD Share, Ventura County’s regional food bank.

The program is based on a similar program in Santa Barbara, McNeill said. “We are educating the children about the importance of healthy eating. We talk a lot about produce that is available and what the benefits are.”

Chrans held up a head of cabbage, explaining what it was and how it was going to be used in the recipe. With only a few exceptions, the children said they understood that vegetables and fruits were important parts of their diet. However, only 10 of the 17 reported having eaten vegetables the day before and 15 reported having eaten fruit.

The children worked around tables where they learned to measure shredded cabbage, raisins and lemon yogurt and cut apples for their salad. Arely Porras, 7, said she enjoys cooking.

“I cook by myself all kinds of thing, like quesadillas, sopas and lots of things,” she said.

Ashley Orin, 8, who was the first to answer most of the questions about nutrition, said she enjoys helping in the kitchen. “I help my mom make steak, and I really like to make eggs,” she said.

Yolanda Alvarez, who is also a nutrition educator for FOOD Share, has been coordinating the curriculum for the program, which includes going to a farmers market, where the children are allowed to fill a bag with produce to take home to their parents.

Alvarez said she incorporates simple recipes that use only a few easy-to-get ingredients. “Every week we will be here with a new nutrition lesson and a new recipe. They always take home the recipe, and we hope that they will make the recipe at home with the food they get at the farmers markets,” Alvarez said.

The farmers market program is being conducted weekly at all three of the Oxnard Boys & Girls Clubs.

Maria Moynihan, who is on the staff of the Harriet Samuelsson facility, said the classes are a great addition to the center’s programs.

The children come to the center after school from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Moynihan said they all are required to do their homework before getting snacks and taking part in activities.

“A lot of these kids have brothers and sisters here, and they can share what they’ve learned and make (the dish) at home,” Moynihan said.

McNeill said the kids’ farmers market is part of FOOD Share’s emphasis on providing food for the hungry and helping people make good nutritional choices.

“We are addressing the need to educate children and families on how to shop and how to prepare food on a limited budget. We’re doing other programs, too, including food stamp outreach to help people in purchasing nutritious foods,” McNeill said.

“Convenience foods are so easy, and sometimes they’re cheaper than fresh produce. That’s why we do produce outreach to the community,” McNeill said. “We are offering education at a child’s level to encourage the children, who can then educate the family that unfortunately some foods can contribute to obesity.”

McNeill said FOOD Share has a number of other efforts aimed at educating the community. “Our long-term goals include promoting gardening programs,” she said. “There’s a myth that kids won’t eat healthy food. But introducing them and engaging them in a way that is exciting and fun is a great example of how that doesn’t have to be true.”

Eight-year-old Ashley Orin beamed as she balanced her bag filled with cabbage, oranges, apples, bananas and onions. “My mom’s going to be happy to be cooking with this,” she said.

Read more:



Welcome to the new!

Welcome to the new!  We have redesigned the site from the ground up to create a better experience for our members of the club, parents of the club, community members and visitors near and far!  Please browse around the website to look at all of the new things we have added!