The Learn Team at Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) recently received an opportunity to provide a fun, kid-friendly healthy food experience at the César E. Chávez Farmers Market in Roberto Clemente Park. Made possible by funding from Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA), KFB taught a vegetable kebab cooking demonstration, in which all participants were given kid-safe knifes and colorful cutting boards to keep. The demonstration included an “eat the rainbow” lesson in which kids learned how different colors of vegetables contain phytonutrients to help their body function. With this knowledge, kids selected and chopped their own freshly harvested farm vegetables, loaded skewers, selected seasonings and watched their creation cook on smokeless grills.
The activity was a welcome addition to the already-vibrant farmers market, which featured fresh produce, handmade crafts and delectable desserts from local vendors. Kids and adults alike stopped by to try their hand at the activity. Children as young as 4 learned how to make “claw hands” to keep their fingers safe while slicing vegetables, while teens used the opportunity to craft their kebabs into delicate sculptures.
The result was a bustling pavilion full of creativity and learning: “This is my first time being a chef!” exclaimed 7-year-old Lilyanna as she sliced zucchini, tomato and peppers. She was thrilled to practice her new kitchen skills and even declared that she wanted to be a chef this year for Halloween.
It was an afternoon of firsts for many! A variety of vegetables were sampled both raw and cooked, with many participants tasting some vegetables, like raw zucchini, for the first time. Many had never tried vegetables kebabs before and were excited to experience how different vegetables tasted cooked near each other on wooden skewers. The variety of herbs, seasonings and sauces provided were also a novelty; many of the young participants tried new flavors, like lemon pepper and fresh dill, carefully making their selections as a finishing touch before grilling.
The results were delicious, and the smiles were large! A brown bag decorating station was available as an activity to do while food was cooking; many kids were very excited to show grownups their completed art, both on bags and on skewers.
The needle of food equity moves when kids are connected to their food, their community and their own creativity. The Learn team at Kids’ Food Basket creates unique, hands-on experiences for kids and families that makes healthy food fun. “Today we saw our community excited to play with food and talk about how it nourishes our bodies,” said Stephanie Mellstead, Engagement and Education Specialist at KFB, “It is a special feeling to connect over creating food together and even better to know it was grown here in Kent Country.”
The César E. Chávez Farmers Market runs on Thursdays from 4p.m. to 7p.m. through September at the Roberto Clemente Park.