Why 'Cooking Day' at BGCMB is a Sweet (and Educational) Science
Updated: Jan 27
National Cooking Day is a time to recognize all the chefs of the foods we all crave and to show the ripple effects that come with learning how to make a great meal and the gift or being able to prepare meal for others.
Cooking At The Club: Members at our Webster Kendrick Club were able to take part in the Dole Sunshine Company's 'Sunshine For All' initiative that aims to decrease food insecurity in some of Baltimore's 'food deserts'.
Today is National Cooking Day, a holiday celebrating everything that goes into preparing all the delicious meals we love to eat. This day of recognition for chefs everywhere is a yearlong celebration that nourishes and educates our members at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore. Our fruitful partnership with Dole Sunshine Company has made the BGCMB weekly program activity of 'Cooking Day' memorable ones and has raised a very genuine interest in cooking specifically amongst members at our Webster Kendrick Club in West Baltimore.
"Our partnership with Dole Sunshine Company really did help," Brandon Clayton, Club Manager at Webster Kendrick, says about the information the company's culinary outreach by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to our members to prepare their afterschool meals. "Most of our youth may be used to fast food and not be used to seeing healthier options on their plate. What goes inside of your body is everything and sometimes we'll have a member who is unfortunately practice poor food habits which isn't a good thing. But if we're able show them and teach them how to cook a healthy meal, they'll start to see that a good healthy diet is one of the most important things to have in life."
Cooking also represents independence, teaches financial awareness and promotes smarter, healthier dietary choices when it comes to what members consume now and later in life. Consuming too many unhealthy options like fast food will cost over time and can lead to chronic health conditions. Helping to create this interest to better understand what they’re consuming by helping members become familiar the ingredients gives them that priceless resource of what a balanced, healthy diet resembles. Creating a meal as a youth also instills a deep sense of pride. Being able to present what their hands and curiosity brought to life in the kitchen demystifies the ‘magic’ some children believe adults perform when preparing breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. This makes a youth more incline to assist in the process of preparing a meal instead of calling from the living room to inquire every few minutes if the meal is ready yet. This helps families to engage in an activity they can bond over and enjoy together at the table.
Working With Freshness: Webster Kendrick members made a Teriyaki Chicken dinner from scratch using
some of the fresh vegetables and other fare to make this dish a classic for our future chefs.
"Most of our members are between eight-to-twelve," Brandon says. "This gives them to the opportunity to go home with the information learned here at BGCMB during the cooking session to maybe go home and want cook their own meals with their parents."
Preparing a meal for others is an act of kindness that goes beyond measure in a world where sustenance is not a guarantee. The reality of food insecurity makes every meal more precious than the previous due to the variables such as an unstable economy, unemployment and other factors that keep pantries bare and empties refrigerators in less than a blink. Yes. This should not be the case for anyone in the world, but it is for the ones enduring this constant trauma that lengthens as the pattern of inconsistent meals continues. Knowing how to get the most out of a sparse list of ingredients opens the mind to the possibilities of that day’s menu dietary options. This newfound life skill empowers the one in need of a home-cooked meal as they now know how to independently create a dish using any series of gathered ingredients without the assistance of others. Understanding the breakdown of what makes up the dish being prepared is the other half of consuming food that informing members on the dietary value of each morsel on the plate. It is a dimension to cooking that O'Donnell Heights Club Manager Lozita King takes on much larger significance.
"We teach members the educational side of cooking to find out what certain foods actually does to the body and the processing of it." Lozita then highlights why BGCMB's approach differs from other youth-oriented centers. "Most programs teach youth how to cook--and we do that as well--but we teach the vital nutritional factors to our members in each recipe we prepare."
On Line: Wooden spatulas help to thoroughly cook the meat our chefs at
Webster Kendrick are browning in their signature pans on flameless hot plates.
Every plate needs a meal. Every meal needs a chef. Every chef needs a recipe. Every recipe starts with the ingredients. This is where the art of cooking begins. Members across the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore will be learning this flavorful process that educates and bolsters confidence in the young chef as well as enhances their understanding of what’s occurring while cooking—scientifically speaking. In the kitchen, our members use the mathematical principles learned during the school day to create afterschool dishes. Hands on lessons in chemistry instantly happen when extremes like flour and milk are combined in a mixing bowl with spoons and whisks. Conversations heard regarding fractions and measurements at the start of preparing the meal end over the quiet chews of approving smiles enjoying what the created together.
Our in the beautiful Eastern Shore town of Pocomoke is where our Club members are experiencing cooking at a higher temperature. On an electric range is the first place where our members are learning that when the heat is on—so is there learning. Periodically opening the oven’s door lets them see how all the combined ingredients are becoming one under a triple-digit heat cooking the dish. Watching the meal also teaches youth how to devote their full attention to a project from start to its flavorful completion. Lori Becker, Club Manager at Pocomoke High School, explains how ‘Cooking Day’ is a valuable resource that teaches youth teamwork and science while impacting families in its community.
The Heat Is On: Pocomoke Youth Development Coordinator Milford Henry and
Club Manager Lori Becker show members the preparative steps to baking.
“Our members gain several skills while using the kitchen for ‘Cooking Day’. They’re learning to read and follow directions as well as using their math skills for measuring ingredients. Lastly, they learn to work together to complete each recipe.” The knowledge our members learned during their math and science classes during the school day are exercised after school members use during programming. Lori then discusses the non-scientific lessons gained during this process. “Every member gets the opportunity to be hands on in seeing the finished recipe. We want each member to gain confidence in the kitchen so that they will want to go home and use what they have learned to cook for their family.”
Want to see what other trends we’re cooking up all year long here at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore? Click here to find out what else our talented members and devoted Club are doing this year and how you can help.