Developing healthy behaviors in children is easier and more effective than trying to change unhealthy behaviors in adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With one in three U.S. children and adolescents being overweight or obese, it’s essential to foster healthy habits.
Teen Battle Chef, a nationally run program, aims to develop an appreciation for wholesome foods and cooking in children, who are typically ages 10 to 14. Spoutwood Farm in Codorus Township has hosted the program for the last five years and will hold an eight-week session in July.
“The medical stats are pretty grim in terms of the impacts of childhood obesity,” local organizer Liz Leinwand said. “That’s a function of what we have been eating.”
During Teen Battle Chef, kids learn how to use knives, read a recipe and handle food safely. They also learn to differentiate between whole, local foods and food that’s been processed or transferred from across the country. During each session, participants take turns orchestrating various hands-on roles, such as head chef.
Leinwand said sessions teach kids about different types of foods and flavors. Dishes groups have prepared include mussels, quesadillas with spinach and pesto, frittata, Caribbean salsa, stir-fry and Moroccan stew.
“A big part of our mission is to expand the adventure of eating,” she said.
Leinwand said she sees a transformation in kids during the program. Aside from expanding their culinary knowledge, they also build confidence and develop speaking, leadership and teamwork skills.
“I love that part,” she said. “Kids are tasting and enjoying foods that are good for them.”
Some participants continue with the program as Culinary Health Educators from Spoutwood and lead healthy food demonstrations at community events, schools, health fairs, farmers markets and at Spoutwood Farm events and festivals.
What: Teen Battle Chef
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 8 through July 11 and July 15 through July 18
Where: Spoutwood Farm, 4255 Pierceville Road, Codorus Township
Cost: $100 for eight sessions, includes lunch (financial assistance available)
Details: Call 443-695-0015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org