Virtual kids cooking school improves kitchen confidence
Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption is linked with preventing chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Research has shown that hands-on culinary nutrition education and gardening activities can improve skills and increase the intake of fruits and vegetables. According to North Dakota statistics, however, only 3% of children meet the daily recommendation for fruit and vegetable consumption.
To address this issue, North Dakota State University Extension educators conducted a virtual Kids Cooking School during the COVID-19 pandemic for youths in a three-county region. Videos were produced for 10 lessons and shared via YouTube. Class materials and groceries for recipe preparation were distributed to participants. Topics included measuring ingredients, reading a recipe, identifying and using kitchen equipment, safe food handling, nutrition and hands-on cooking and baking. After preparing each healthy recipe, youths submitted to staff a picture via email/text to confirm their completion of the lesson. Each child received a cooking kit and cookbook at the conclusion of the program.
Twenty-seven youths completed the month-long cooking school. Of those, 96% reported knowing how to follow recipe directions and the basics of food safety, 60% are eating more vegetables, 78% are eating more fruit, 57% are eating more grains, 91% feel more confident when helping with cooking at home and 91% can correctly identify and confidently use kitchen equipment. “When I’m home alone, now I can cook,” said one participant. “She loves to cook,” said a participant’s parent. “This helped to encourage her to try new cooking techniques.”