As the in-store Registered Dietitian, I have been doing two monthly children’s cooking classes at the Evesham Library in Marlton, New Jersey. Snack Attack is the program for younger kids (2-6 years old) and Kids Can Cook is for older kids (6-11). Snack Attack includes a short story time, some exercising, and then the kids get to make a healthy snack, usually related to the story that they heard. We make simple and healthy recipes in fun shapes such as ladybugs for the spring or spiders for Halloween! The older kids in the Kids Can Cook class are focused more on chopping and measuring with more complex recipes. The recipes for both classes are always fruit and/or vegetable based and may include a whole grain, low-fat and lower sugar dairy, and possibly nuts or seeds. A nutrition lesson is always included, either before we start or as we are going along cooking. I have been doing this for over 3 years and its great to see how much the children have evolved by coming to the classes. I’ve turned the pickiest eaters into adventurous eaters! The parents are very happy and always stay after the class to ask me additional nutrition questions or for healthy recipe ideas. It’s also a great way to bring customers to my office in the store or to additional in-store programs I run. We have recently added a Teen Special Needs class which has been very successful so far!
The ingredients and most materials for these cooking classes are funded by the Ravitz Family ShopRite of Marlton. The maximum amount of children allowed for the classes is 15 per each class due to space limitations. We generally get 8-15 children signed up, often times with a waiting list. In addition to the 8-15 children, there is generally one adult per child, so anywhere from 16-30 people are participating per class.
To provide a fun and safe learning environment for children to try new foods.
Working with the children’s librarian to coordinate the classes has been wonderful. She knows the families very well which helps us to schedule appropriate class times and choose recipes that will be exciting to try. I have seen families start the classes for younger kids and have then moved up to the older group. Throughout that transition I have seen the kids become more willing to participate and try new foods. These families have signed up for in-store cooking classes as well, which only continues to develop their enthusiasm to eat healthy foods and try new items. They have also found me in the store to tell me they tried the recipes at home or need help finding the ingredients.
The community kids cooking classes our in-store dietitian holds have been very successful. The Snack Attack and Kids Can Cook programs at our local libraries have not only taught the children about healthy eating, but also have given parents new ideas on how to get their kids to try new foods. These families shop in our stores and it’s great to see them come in and discuss with Ashley the recipes they made at home that were successful with their families. ~ Steve Ravitz, President of Supermarkets of Cherry Hill
Ashley Cully and the Shop Rite of Marlton have been offering delicious, nutritious programs at the Evesham Library for several years. Using seasonal ingredients to create innovative recipes that appeal to children, Ashley offers Snack Attack (ages 3-5) and Kids Can Cook (ages 6-9). With lots of hands on teaching, we use our senses to learn about new ingredients. Learning to “color our plate” has encouraged families to try new fruits, veggies, and grains. Recently Shop Rite added a Teen Special Needs Cooking class here. We love this dynamic new program that is fast becoming a favorite among our community and staff. Because this population is at a higher risk for obesity, Ashley focuses on education while still keeping the recipes simple and fun. Whether fruit smoothies, energy bites, or mug cakes are on the menu, the teens learn about making healthy choices that are also delicious.