Nutrition matters for Onekama students

Al Frye of the Manistee Community Kitchen and Cyndi Jacobi of Michigan State University Extension present the Cooking Matters for Kids class on nutrition to the fifth grade class at Onekama Consolidated Schools. (Meg LeDuc/News Advocate)

ONEKAMA – “Who wants to measure out the corn starch?” Al Frye asked.

All the kids immediately stuck their hands in the air. “I do!” they said.

Fifth grade teacher Bonnie Brown laughed.

“Oh, good,” she said. “Fractions!”

Nicholas Wemple of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College directs a fifth grade student as she cuts grapes. The students were making pancakes out of whole-wheat flour and a fruit topping of pineapple, bananas, oranges and grapes. (Meg LeDuc/News Advocate)

This “Cooking Matters” presentation, led by Al Frye of the Manistee Community Kitchen, Cyndi Jacobi of Michigan State University Extension, Dorothy Batzer of West Shore Medical Center, and Nicholas Wemple of the Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College, taught the students of Brown’s class a lot of things: the basics of reading a recipe, the benefits of whole wheat flour, and even how to open a can.

The cooking project for Monday’s session was whole wheat pancakes with a homemade fruit topping thickened with corn starch. Frye instructed the students as they peeled bananas and oranges, sliced grapes, opened and drained a can of pineapple, then mixed batter, and cooked pancakes on the portable griddle Frye set up in the front of their classroom.

A curriculum on nutrition sponsored by MSU Extension and targeted to fifth graders around the state, Cooking Matters aims to get students and their families making healthier decisions about eating, such as choosing more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reading nutrition labels. Statistics show that Type II diabetes and cardiovascular risk are rising among young people.

For the past three years, the Manistee Community Kitchen has been partnering with Michigan State Extension to bring the Cooking Matters curriculum to Manistee County students. Cooking Matters is also taught for adults, with Frye teaching a group about nutrition and food safety.

Michigan State Extension brings Cooking Matters to areas where 50 percent of the students qualified for free or reduced lunches. Half the adult students in Cooking Matters classes must be food-stamp eligible or actually receiving food stamps.

Jacobi said that the focus on nutrition is reaping results.

“Kids are always coming up to me and saying, ‘I tried this (new food),’ or ‘I like this,’” she said. “They’re eating more fruits and vegetables. We show them the amount of sugar in some of their favorite snack foods, and they’re making better choices about things like soda.”

Leave a Reply