Health in Motion: Greenock Elementary Kids’ Kitchen
This article is a part of a series called Health in Motion brought you by Let’s Move Pittsburgh. Health in Motion is intended to showcase the efforts of schools and community organizations in the Pittsburgh region who are leading children to a healthier future. A new project with a guest author or interviewee will be featured each month. Let’s Move Pittsburgh hopes that Health in Motion will encourage leaders to adopt healthy programs in their communities and inspire readers to make healthy changes in their own lives.
Gail Fleckenstein, Chris Estadt and Lynda Hoffman are educators at Greenock Elementary School in the Elizabeth Forward School District and creators of “Kids’ Kitchen!”
Eat your vegetables! Many children dread hearing those words, but not the students at Greenock Elementary in Elizabeth Forward School District. For the past four years, students have been growing and eating vegetables from our school garden. Unfortunately, there was a disconnect between harvesting the vegetables and preparing them for consumption.
That all changed when we received our Let’s Move Pittsburgh Champion School Grant Award.
With our award, we were able to renovate a storage room into a demonstration kitchen. We purchased a refrigerator, convection oven, benches and tables, hot plates, and a food-preparation island. Now, instead of teachers taking the vegetables home to prepare meals, the students use the Kids’ Kitchen to prepare the recipes themselves. They learn how to safely handle and prepare food. As the year progressed, the children made better choices in creating healthy recipes. Some of their menus included: Bee Bim Bop, Rainbow Tacos, Friendship Pitas, tortillas and Earth-shaped krispie treats.
In addition to food preparation, the kitchen is used for health classes. During these classes, students learn about the food groups and portion sizing. Nutrition was connected to exercise with our partnership with the Kids of Steel Running Program.
Additionally, the students are discovering some unusual vegetables. Seeds planted in the spring are ready for harvest in the summer when school is not in session. To ensure that these fantastic plants don’t go to waste, children harvest the produce during a summer enrichment program called Little Sprouts: Growing Gardeners, Not Just Gardens. All of the produce is then cooked in the Kids’ Kitchen. In addition to the usual fare of tomatoes, broccoli and cabbage, the students also sampled kohlrabi, purple beans, kale, and spaghetti and acorn squashes.
This fall we will be adding hydroponics to our growing curriculum. Without the Let’s Move Pittsburgh Champion School Grant Award, none of this would have been possible.