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Youth learn about food through AmeriCorps members
Youth learning about food
By Patricia Terhaar
I am a FoodCorps Food Education Service Member serving with Building Healthy Communities at Wayne State University. I work with schools around the Detroit Metropolitan Area and teach nutrition lessons to students K-6th. One particular lesson that made an impact was Root Fruit Slaw. The lesson focuses on teaching students about different parts of plants that we eat such as the seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Students observe the ingredients we use in the recipe: apples, beets, and carrots and then they each have an opportunity to help grate the root or fruit to start making the slaw. While students wait, they are able to copy down the recipe so they can share it and take it home. Then once all the roots and fruits have been grated the apple cider vinaigrette is added and students are encouraged to try a small tasting of the recipe they have helped make. We focus on not “yucking” each other's “yums” so that students have the opportunity to think about what they are tasting. Three weeks after I taught the Root Fruit Slaw lesson at Steenland Elementary I came back to help pass out snacks for a Literacy Night the school was hosting. While I was waiting for students, a member of the PTO shared with me a story about how their child had written the recipe during the lesson and a few weeks later walked to the local grocery store to get the ingredients. When they got back home, they grated the carrots, beets, and apples to make the Root Fruit Slaw for their family. Another teacher shared with me a story of one of their students making the recipe with the caregivers to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Students don’t just understand and reflect on what they are learning in the lessons, they also feel empowered to act and share food with their caregivers. Seeing students be excited to make their own food with fresh ingredients that they think taste good, while also knowing what part of the plant they are eating, and sharing the food with those around them makes teaching nutrition lessons feel that much more rewarding.