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On this blog, we share regular updates about the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners partnership between Extension's Children, Youth & Family Consortium and Bruce Vento Elementary School.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Recipe for Healthy Relationships

By: Maks Luthra

It is known that cooking develops creativity. Some also feel that cooking is like meditation and can be used to calm the mind. But did you know cooking can bring community together? Well, YES!!!

Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul recently finished their first set of cooking class for parents, and the response has been overwhelming. Thanks to Second Harvest Heartland and their Food + You program, our families now receive food boxes every month. It has helped greatly in increasing access to healthy foods for our little students and their families. A few months ago, the parent educator found that parents were throwing away some of the food in the boxes because they didn’t know how to use them. Shirley Vang, SNAP-Ed educator at the University of Minnesota Extension and an active partner in our project, has been conducting cooking classes for parents and helping them learn to use the box items in the most efficient, healthy, and delicious way!

Parents taking initiative in cooking

I had the opportunity to attend a cooking class on a recent Tuesday afternoon and was intrigued by the enthusiasm of the parents, reflected by their commitment to these classes. The parents had expressed interest in the previous class to learn to cook American dishes, so the theme for this class was omelettes, french toast, and pancakes!

Cyndy McRae sharing her recipe for french toast.

After talking to some of the parents present there, I realized that these cooking classes mean a lot to them. Not only do they get the chance to learn more about the American culture and try new dishes with the support of Bruce Vento and U of M Extension staff, they also get to take some ingredients home to try cooking these dishes for their families. As an incentive for being regular participants of the cooking classes, families received a new electric skillet to take home. I heard from one of the parents that she cancels everything that would interfere with coming to the class.

Parents seemed excited seeing how food can be made appealing and flavorful by adding yellow, red, and green peppers, and were enthusiastic to try new dishes themselves. They were grateful for the translator who helped them understand and facilitate the communication about their culture and eating habits. I'm really looking forward to the next cooking class on April 19. Put on your apron and whip up something incredible!

If you want to learn more about the great work happening at Bruce Vento Elementary School and how you can be involved, check out our project website. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@CYFCumn) and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Learners is an ongoing partnership between the Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium and the Bruce Vento Elementary School. Together, along with many other partners, we are developing engaging learning environments that promote student learning and wellness.

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