The student programs include an after-school cooking class and in-school lessons. The Small Bites lesson incorporates math and language arts to nutrition and cooking. The Garden Class lesson incorporates planting and harvesting from the school’s garden.
Family programs include parents’ nights and family cooking classes. Parents’ nights teach parents ways to incorporate nutritious eating habits at home. The family cooking classes are taught by a Common Threads chef instructor and encourage families to cook healthy meals. They learn about healthy ingredient substitutions, cost-saving cooking methods and recipes.
There are 16 schools currently in the program.
Arielle Germeus says that Common Threads has helped her change her eating habits. The 10-year-old used to eat a lot of junk food, but now she eats – and cooks – healthier foods, at camp and at home. “I’ve been learning a lot and having fun at the same time,” she said.
Her favorite recipe has been the Wiener Schnitzel tenders, the German version of chicken tenders made with whole-wheat flour and breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, eggs, milk or water and olive oil. “Think of chicken tenders, but way healthier than Burger King,” Germeus said.
The students also meet with local chefs.
Adrianne Calvo, owner of Chef Adrianne’s restaurant in Kendall, was impressed with how driven the campers were to learn about cooking. The program “hits close to home” for her because she taught cooking classes at an after-school care program in Miami when she was 16.
“A lot can happen when kids have free time and these programs help build self-esteem and skills that they will need later in life,” she said. “I would love for people to support programs like Common Threads. When I became a chef, I fell in love with the program.”
Shakira Jean-Jules, a 10-year-old camper, has had a blast. Her favorite part: She cooks –and eats – good food, exercises and makes friends.
“I am learning things I never knew,” she said. “I now know how to keep my body strong.”