On Tuesday, Nov. 13, eight sixth grade students from NBC Middle School took the first step of an initiative to help change how students relate to food. These students are part of a new health initiative called the “Cook In Club”.
The club is a collaborative effort of Montague-Whitehall Rotary, Montague Area Public Schools, Whitehall District Schools, Muskegon County’s 1 in 21 initiative, Culinary Institute of Michigan at Baker College and other community members. The goal of the Cook In Club is to help students gain knowledge, skills and confidence in working with food. The hope is once these skills are acquired that these students will have a lifelong connection with healthy food that will influence their health in years to come.
The Cook in Club is a six week, free after school cooking class lasting about one and a half hours. The class will teach the kids the basics of measurements, budgeting, cooking and food preparations; it is the hope that much of what they learn will be transferable to the home kitchen and allows them to help in the kitchen.
The students are provided transportation from school to the class and home after the class. The students also receive some basic tools for cooking that they will be able to keep once the program is completed.
After the Montague students have completed their program, eight Whitehall sixth graders will be chosen for another six week class. The goal of the program is to build a template and structure that can be used by other organizations. Chef Valerie Hansen, owner of Bygone Basics, will facilitate the pilot in both districts with the program being turned over to volunteers after the template is developed.
The Cook In Club idea was first initiated by Dave Pickard, with the help of Susie Rehrer from Montague-Whitehall Rotary. They recruited both White Lake area school districts to participate in the project. The project is totally funded through private donations and they have raised just over half the funds needed to complete the pilot phase.
Interested parties can donate to Dave Pickard, Cook In Club, PO Box 272, Montague, MI 49437.