Youth taught nutrition, cooking skills at camp

Johnny Morgan  |  7/26/2018 6:38:34 PM

(07/26/18) NEW ORLEANS — For five days in July, 16 youths spent seven hours a day at the City Park Botanical Garden to learn about health and nutrition.

The LSU AgCenter, in conjunction with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, sponsored its CHEF cooking camp for youths ages 9-11 on July 16-20. CHEF stands for cooking healthy and enjoyable foods.

“We teach them basic nutrition as well as hands-on cooking skills, cooking terminology, kitchen safety, food safety, etiquette and manners,” said AgCenter nutrition agent Bertina McGhee.

CHEF Camp is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate food guidance system and dietary guidelines.

Learning to cook helps children learn about nutrition and healthy eating.

“It also helps boost their self-esteem,” McGhee said. “They learn something new, accomplish a task and can then in turn make a contribution to the family.”

Cooking is a great way to learn life skills and also provides lessons in science, math, language and creativity. Learning to cook teaches children to plan and make decisions, McGhee said.

During the week, the campers made a variety of recipes.

“On day one, we had team-building exercises, where they designed their aprons, participated in yoga and other physical activity,” McGhee said. “On day two, we made bread, and on day three, we made quesadillas and mac and cheese.”

On the final two days of the camp, the students made fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips, and on day five they made chicken strips and pizza, she said.

The program was offered as one of the NORDC summer camp opportunities, McGhee said.

“We have had great attendance,” she said. A parent or other adult had to be with each camper when they signed in and when they left for the day.

Bryant Thomas, a sixth-grade student at Resurrection of Our Lord Elementary School, said the camp was a great learning experience.

“I learned a lot about bacteria and germs during our classes,” Bryant said.

Chelsea Marks, and eighth-grader at Benjamin Franklin Elementary, said the ability to work with different recipes was a highlight of the camp for her.

“I enjoyed learning how to make ice cream in a bag and how to make pancakes,” she said.

In addition to McGhee, the sessions were taught by AgCenter nutrition agent Emelia Clement and 4-H agent Derek Landrum.

Landrum said his goal for the camp was to provide a physical education component that included a session of yoga.

“With all of the information they were learning about diet and nutrition, we wanted to make sure they realize the importance of getting enough physical exercise to go with it,” Landrum said.

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LSU AgCenter nutrition agent Bertina McGhee gives instruction on nutrition to youth involved in the LSU AgCenter Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods (CHEF) cooking camp in New Orleans that ran from July 16-20 at New Orleans City Park. The camp was cosponsored by the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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Students participating in a weeklong LSU AgCenter Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods (CHEF) youth cooking camp in New Orleans prepares to make ice cream in a bag. The camp ran from July 16-20 at New Orleans City Park. The camp was cosponsored by the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

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