LSU College of Agriculture instructor, students teach cooking skills to youth

(06/23/16) BATON ROUGE, La – Jared Collins cracked eggs into a bowl while Darion Richard grated cheese and Larissa Alexander chopped vegetables at the Family and Youth Service Center. The three were working together to make egg muffins. Judy Myhand, a nutrition instructor in the LSU College of Agriculture, was overseeing this and five other groups tackling different recipes.

These teens and nearly a hundred others are part of Love Our Community, a summer youth employment program in Baton Rouge, which gives youth the opportunity to earn income while participating in neighborhood revitalization and professional development programs.

Myhand volunteers with the program by taking the nutrition lessons and cooking techniques she teaches to her students at LSU and applying them to these teenagers.

She spends only a few hours with each group, but in that time, Myhand introduces them to new foods, instills cooking skills and demonstrates the value of eating more fruits and vegetables.

Myhand also recruited Allison Taylor, a recent LSU graduate in nutrition and food sciences, and Torrey Alexis, an LSU senior in nutrition and food sciences, to volunteer with the program, assisting participants by teaching proper techniques.

“I would like to have an army of volunteer dietitians working in the community like this,” Myhand said. “I volunteer, and I encourage my students to because it is important to reach groups like these.”

Collins, an 11th-grader at McKinley High School, said he enjoys cooking hot wings and baking brownies, and wasn’t afraid to try new foods.

“This is so good,” Collins said as he ate his egg muffin with a blueberry sauce other youth had made for pancakes.

The teens also made watermelon lemonade, chickpea burgers and taco lettuce wraps.

“I find ways to sneak in more plant-based foods in everything we cook,” Myhand said.

Dasjon Jordan, who works for Love Our Community as a team coordinator, said the cooking class connects the youth with gardening they do in the community.

“Here they can see the importance of gardens and taking the food into the kitchen, and it engages them in new ways of cooking,” Jordan said.

Love Our Community is a four-week program through Baton Rouge’s Office of the Mayor-President. In addition to creating gardens and cooking, the youths also paint murals in neighborhoods, learn photography skills, receive CPR certification and take part in leadership development and financial literacy classes.

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Jared Collins, Darion Richard and Larissa Alexander work together to make egg muffins. The three were learning cooking skills from LSU College of Agriculture instructor and students as part of the Love Our Community summer youth employment program. (Photo by Tobie Blanchard)

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Torrey Alexis, right, a nutrition and food sciences student in the LSU College of Agriculture, helps youths make watermelon lemonade. Alexis is volunteering with the Love Our Community program to teach teenagers cooking skills. (Photo by Tobie Blanchard)

6/23/2016 2:51:28 PM
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