by Quincy Vidrine
In the Fall of 2022 Franklin Parish Extension Nutrition Team was awarded the Walmart Healthy Living Grant to support youth nutrition education in the parish. Family & Consumer Sciences Area Nutrition Agent, Quincy Vidrine chose to focus efforts in the community of Crowville. A series of cooking camps were very successful in the Crowville area the previous summer and Vidrine had several youth (ages 13-17) in mind for the Teen Cuisine program. Recruitment began in August 2022 and in September, the Teen Cuisine @ 4:15 p.m. sessions started in the kitchen of the First Baptist Church of Crowville. In addition to the Walmart Healthy Living Grant, funding was also provided by “Friends of Crowville” and Northeast Louisiana Power Cooperative.
The youth met for 5 classes from September to December. They received instruction in kitchen safety, food safety, nutrition education, Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans, USDA MyPlate and basic culinary arts. Classes included hands on cooking sessions each time – they cooked everything from Louisiana Gumbo in the electric pressure cooker to hummus & Tzatziki. In addition, the teens also had a workshop on growing herbs with Franklin Parish Horticulture Agent, Marcie Wilson. They each planted an herb to take home and they learned that using fresh herbs and spices instead of high-sodium seasoning mixtures could be beneficial to their health.
The teens created their own chili seasoning blend using lots of herbs, and spices with very little salt added. They used this blend to construct a recipe that received first place at the Crowville Fall Festival 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off!
Continuing into spring 2023, the teens will begin to work as youth ambassadors teaching younger youth (ages 9-12) how to make healthy food choices and prepare simple snacks and meals. They will use the skills and knowledge they obtained in the fall to lead workshops from January through March. They will also continue to meet twice monthly to further build their nutrition & culinary knowledge and skills so they can compete in 4-H University and 4-H Food Challenge events at the state level.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture