LANCASTER – Students at Eastside Union School District are learning healthy eating habits and vital life skills through cooking classes.
The pilot cooking program aims to help at-risk students regain their focus while boosting their confidence in the education system.
“We are bridging the gap in our at-risk youth by introducing new opportunities to get students excited about learning,” said Eastside Union School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Marshall. “Our youth-focused cooking classes are providing students vital life skills while learning healthy eating habits.”
District staff began implementing the pilot cooking program late last year with students enrolled in Eastside Academy, which provides educational opportunities for students who have unique behavioral situations that may hinder their abilities in a traditional school environment.
Students meet at least twice a month to learn a new recipe with the support of four supervisors.
Anita Molino, Director of Child Nutrition, begins the class by explaining how following the steps of a simple recipe relates to solving real world problems. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion and share thoughts on the lessons they learned at the end of the day.
Each cooking lesson is paired with a new set of goals. Following complex recipes has helped students focus and learn to follow directions, while a simple cheesecake recipe has given students the opportunity to express their creativity with a variety of ingredients, according to Molino.
“We want to continue motivating our students to succeed,” Molino said. “The art of cooking encourages students they may accomplish any task that comes to hand.”
Molino said the goal is to expand the program to all school sites in the Eastside Union School District.
As the district moves forward with plans to expand the program, Molino said she will continue to utilize the garden at Tierra Bonita Elementary to teach new recipes.