NSG Project (Spring 2022) – Kiley Ketchum

Date of Event: 09-July-2022, 2-4 pm

“I was so nervous at first but at the end of the class I warmed up! I wasn’t nervous at all!”
– Tyvannah

The day started by picking up my little buddy Tyvannah, 8 years old, at 10am – she was so excited to teach a cooking class! She had been a keen planner all the way through from writing the application, buying the supplies for the cooking kits for kiddos to take home, to making a grocery list. On the day of I was fearful she may get tired quickly, but she was focused on helping pack up the car, bringing everything into the John Howard kitchen and begin practicing her speaking role (she was going to tell all the kids what they were getting in their kits and how it relates to the recipes we made). She worked so hard, stayed positive, helped participants make their recipes and did not get home from cleaning up until 5:30pm – I was so proud of her. I did not anticipate that her skill building would have little to do with cooking, and everything to do with leadership.

We had originally hoped for 6 pairs (a child + mentor/parent). However, we ended up with 5 duos and found this number worked very well for the room size and degree of chaos involved with cooking 4 different recipes at once. The most complicated recipe (banana bran chocolate chip muffins) went to the youngest child and their mentor and turned out excellent. I have heard from mentors that were in attendance since that they have tried recipes at home again too. When we were writing the application, we were very focused on the children gaining skills and having fun with food, that we forgot the mentors/parents could also benefit in the same way.

The two main learning objectives we set out were hand hygiene and knife safety (all participants were 8+), we covered these early on when we first all sat together. After this, the setting was quite informal, I feel that food exploration can begin with navigating a new recipe, so we wanted to make that accessible and feeling “unsupervised.” However, we were present to troubleshoot, and I answered some nutrition questions regarding general healthy eating for families throughout. When the time came to sit and eat everyone found themselves snacking and chatting. Two of the kiddos were best friends in school before one had moved to another school, they snacked over their reunion. I overheard mentors exchanging baking tips to one another. Although the setting did not permit formal education delivery on the division of responsibility, we tried to model key features throughout snacking. For instance, my little buddy will usually say “I am full!” when she is done eating (often with lots left on her plate). This was an opportunity to respond “You know your body best! Eat what you need to feel satisfied.”

The budget balanced out well, 3/5 of the budget went to building kits for kiddos to take home and 2/5 went to the food itself and a gift for the Elder that joined us. John Howard kindly donated their kitchen space and the honorarium for the Elder. The KidStart coordinator (Jesse), was generous in helping coordinate duos, take pictures, distributing photo permission forms to parents, among many other supportive roles. The children brought leftovers (there was a lot of leftovers), and any remaining ingredients home with them along with their kits.

Thank you for making all the fun, learning, and togetherness possible.

With Gratitude,

Kiley Ketchum & Tyvannah Pollock
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