Cooking cart delivers interactive classroom lessons

Carrollton City Schools‘ (GA) new cooking cart creates a mobile classroom where students learn about healthy recipes through fun, interactive demonstrations, lessons and taste-tests.

The program began about three months ago through a partnership with Tanner Health System and the Carrollton City Schools district FoodCorps service member, Dory Cooper.

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Dory Cooper, FoodCorps service member.

“Bringing nutrition education and hands-on learning through cooking into classrooms is a really exciting way to see kids go through the learning process and apply what they’re learning in the classroom to their everyday lives,” said Cooper. “It’s also really fun to see them react to things like an orange sweet potato or basic cooking techniques. And it’s really fun. It’s a great way for them to get excited about what they’re learning in school.”

Cooper has held various demonstrations on her mobile cart and, along with other FoodCorps service members, has helped introduce students to healthy food and cooking. After the demonstration, the kids are able to perform their own taste tests, bringing the experience full circle. Simple recipes, like pear jam and sweet potato hummus, are quick, effective ways to engage students in learning.

Cooper is able to visit any classroom, not only providing educational moments for nutrition, but incorporating parts of her demonstration into English, science or math curriculum with interactive lessons, such as recipe fractions, voting and graphing. She recently taught second graders using a blueberry-banana smoothie recipe with discussion on purchasing ingredients, solid and liquid forms and nutrition of the food. The cart makes it feasible to enter the classroom with a food processor, cutting board and the many ingredients required for that day’s lesson.

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Cooper in action, making sweet potato hummus from her mobile classroom cart.

This program is just the latest in a long line of ways Carrollton City Schools is constantly improving school nutrition and offerings. Linette Dodson, a registered dietitian and director of School Nutrition for Carrollton City Schools, said she began making changes to the district’s nutrition program when she started back in 2010. According to Ms. Dodson, they started with fresh quality ingredients, expanded their breakfast program, brought in farm-to-school and incorporated nutrition education.

To watch a video of Cooper and her mobile cart in action, click on cooking demonstration video.

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