During the winter term, Mr. Woodard and I encouraged the students to join our elective, Snackage. This elective focuses on making healthy snacks and working with Chief Dave and his staff in the Dining Hall twice a week.
On Wednesdays, the students learn about kitchen basics and assist in preparing food for the day's lunch. Students are divided into three teams and they assist in the production of soups, salads, desserts, and entrees. On Fridays, the students have the opportunity to continue to use their kitchen skills to make healthy and tasty snacks including trail mix, toasted Cheerios, bruschetta, pico de gallo and guacamole. The goal is to give the students a repertoire of simple, healthy and tasty treats that they will eventually be able to make on their own. Mr. Woodard and I enjoy working with our small group of students and exploring the culinary arts together.
The elective is open to students in grades 5 through 9th. We work with five 6th graders and 3 eighth graders. Out of these students, there are 3 returning students from the previous year.
Through this elective, the students learn that when working with the dining hall staff they have to wear a uniform to protect the food and themselves. This includes wearing a head covering, a black chefs hat to keep hair out of the food, an apron and to protect their feet, wear special plastic shoe coverings. Finally, they wash their hands and put on plastic gloves and if they are going to be using knives, they need to wear a cut glove to protect the hand that is holding the food from any possible injuries. Aside from putting on the uniform, they learn skills such as how to use large sharp knives correctly. When passing behind another person, they need to say that they are behind them to avoid collisions. They also learn measuring skills. and learn things like how to make each cookie uniform by using scoopers. They have to prepare lunch for about 300 people, so they are making large quantities of food!
When we are working together to make a snack on Fridays, students learn how to read recipes, use measuring spoons and cups, prepare vegetables, using a gas burner to toast ingredients and tasting ingredients to see which flavors would complement each other in their trail mix. Students also hone their knife skills chopping fresh herbs and onions, dicing tomatoes and mincing garlic.
One of the biggest challenges is to make as much as, or all of what they are helping to make whether it is sandwiches, cookies, or salad. On one occasion, all of the students were challenged to make sliders. They diligently worked until close to four hundred sliders were made. A job well done!