Agriculture Discussion board: Youth Middle in East Jordan promotes wholesome consuming | Firms
Groundwork recently launched Building Resilient Communities (BRC), a program that aims to increase the amount of nutritious, locally grown food served in community-based locations across northwest Michigan.
BRC aims to improve community health while building capacity, expanding the local food market and strengthening the economic stability of farms. BRC is based on the principle that a small investment in infrastructure, coupled with support and strategic planning, can have an overwhelming impact on building food security in our region.
Eligible sites for this program include schools, pantries, community centers, farms, and even farmers markets and concessions. Working closely with community members, Groundwork staff will help locations determine the best ways to use their scholarship and strengthen existing or new infrastructure to ensure the changes last.
Although BRC is still in the pilot phase, Groundwork has already proven the success of the program with its first location: the Depot Teen Center in East Jordan.
With the support of Groundwork consultants, The Depot developed strategies to increase the healthy food consumption of its participants. These include:
- Offer cooking classes
- Providing ingredients for home cooking
- Visiting farms
Make commitments, such as always providing water, fruit and vegetables; Limiting unhealthy foods and drinks; Asking volunteers to model healthy eating; and communicating with families about healthy choices
The depot’s volunteers were trained by Groundworks’ former FoodCorps AmeriCorps service member and current contractor Casey Haggerty. They learned how to teach knife techniques, how to handle food safely, and how to break down longer recipes into youth-friendly tasks. With their scholarship, they bought induction burners, pans, mixing bowls, and other cooking utensils that enable The Depot to guide teenagers in class.
His first class was a success.
The pan fried chicken recipe allowed participants to practice a variety of skills, such as chopping, handling meat, cooking rice, and sautéing vegetables. The recipe also introduced nutritional concepts such as the inclusion of multiple food groups and vegetable colors in one dish. The dessert consisted of no-sugar cookies made from oats and bananas, and the drink consisted of water with raspberries. When asked when the next cooking class should be, an eighth grader exclaimed: “Tomorrow!”
Days later, at the farmer’s market in East Jordan, the depot volunteer Carrie Zoulek met some teenagers who were taking the course. They expressed how much they liked it and how they planned to come back next time. Carrie says, “get ready, I’m sure we will have many more” [classes]! ”
In addition to being fun and community-building activities, The Depot’s cooking classes help teenagers develop lifelong skills that will enable them to cook good, healthy food for themselves and their families. This has positive long-term effects on community health.
The depot’s history is just a glimpse of the potential of BRC, as Groundwork intends to have at least 20 locations participating this year – and they are actively recruiting!
Interested organizations or individuals are invited to fill out a short form on the Groundwork website. Further questions can be directed to Jessyca Stoepker at [email protected] or 269.908.8563.
Casey Haggerty is a contractor at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.