Dayton, Nevada – This summer, 80 kids attending the Boys and Girls Club found out that kale and fish actually taste quite good.
Farmer Rebekah May, who is also a certified Community Health Advocate with Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey, showed youths how to create tasty dishes from “scratch” using fresh local produce, herbs and meat from her farm and from the local school gardens.
“It was delicious, and we debunked many kids’ false thoughts about certain foods like fish and kale. It was a lot of fun to see them try things they’d never eaten before,” May said.
The cooking classes were held in the Dayton High School Culinary Arts kitchen, and the students made kale -broccoli -bacon salad, peach crisp, pesto, fresh fruit salad with fresh vanilla syrup made with vanilla beans and fresh mint, and fish tacos.
May, who owns Sunny Day Organics farm in Stagecoach, even showed the students how to make bacon, using pork from her farm.
Cooking Classes For Adults Throughout the Year: May also teaches community cooking classes for adults once a month in the evening at the Dayton Community Center, basing recipes on the varying USDA commodities ingredients received by the local food pantry.The purpose of the free classes is to teach how to prepare affordable and appetizing meals based on the low cost, but nutritious, items.
Healthy Food Hub: The BGC lessons and the cooking lessons for adults are both part of Healthy Communities Coalition’s “Healthy Food Hub”, a multi-faceted system for creating a sustainable, healthy and affordable food system in the region that includes cooking, canning, nutrition, and gardening lessons; a food co-operative; a garden center; volunteer-powered food pantries; school and community gardens and hoop houses; advocacy for Cottage Food Industries jobs; teen farm internships; farmers markets; and strategic efforts to infuse more local produce into the region’s school lunches, grocery stores and restaurants.
Funding: The summer cooking project with Boys and Girls Club members was funded, in part, through a $100,000 grant Healthy Communities received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program.
Goals: The Coalition is using the funding to impact more than 8,000 students across 18 schools in the Lyon County School District. The goals include a collective impact that will1) increase economic prosperity for local farmers; 2) increase good health and wellness for children; and 3) increase the number of food-literate children through the use of hands-on learning in school gardens.
To meet those goals, Healthy Communities is working with local farms, vendors, food cooperatives, food management companies, the Lyon County School District, and the Mason Valley Boys and Girls Clubs sites throughout the county to develop strategies for increasing the availability of local food in the school lunch program, for increasing school garden production, and for encouraging the use of school garden produce in children’s snacks at the Boys and Girls Clubs.
For more information, contact Healthy Communities director Christy McGill at (775) 246-7550.