Recipe for Success instructors joined teachers at Heritage Rose Elementary School in teaching second-grade students how to grow, harvest, and cook their own healthy meals. Funded by a United Health Foundation grant, the program at Heritage Rose introduced students to the entire cycle of food, and empowered them to prepare healthy meals and snacks for themselves.
For 10 weeks during the spring semester, Recipe for Success instructors Emily Blakely and Ruth Riojas taught students lessons from the “Seed-to-Plate” Nutrition Education program. Students learned to identify the various parts of vegetable and fruit plants and how to grow their own produce. They also learned about taste and flavor combinations, cooking techniques, and skills that will serve them throughout their lifetimes.
As a culminating activity, the students took part in an Iron Chef competition that allowed them to prepare baked veggie quesadillas for a panel of judges. Judges included Charles Dupre, FBISD Superintendent of Schools; Brenna Smelley, Executive Director of the Fort Bend Education Foundation; Laura Hayward, Heritage Rose Elementary School’s Extended Day Coordinator; and Michelle Amos, LEAP Program Coordinator at Lamar Consolidated Independent School District.
Four teams of students chose their own combination of fillings (such as red cabbage, carrots, corn, bell peppers, zucchini, spinach and onions) to make their quesadillas stand out for judges. With the help of Recipe for Success chefs, the students prepared and plated their meals for the judges to sample. After sampling meals from each team, the judges presented awards for best teamwork, best executed recipe, cleanest workers and best plate presentation.
“I liked eating healthy vegetables and cooking food in class,” said Valerie Williams.
“This competition was the final event in a series of classes that promoted healthy eating habits among young children,” said Ruth Riojas, Recipe for Success instructor. “Hopefully, students will take what they learned in the classes and apply it to their home life. We want them to continue to try fresh fruits and vegetables that they may not be familiar with and incorporate those into healthy meals.”