Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It may not be unusual to see a group of kids riding their bikes together in Minneapolis. But you might be surprised to see kids biking to the farmers markets to learn about cooking and healthy foods.
That’s exactly what fourth and fifth graders are doing in a summer program at Richard Green Central Park School. The students make the five-mile bike ride to the farmers market to learn about growing fresh produce and how it helps the body when they eat it.
The student’s teacher, Tom McComas, says too many young people eat food that is cheap, but not nutritious.
“Unfortunately, it seems like fresh fruits and vegetables cost more than junk food,” he said. “So we’re trying to bring them to the farmers market here, so they can find an affordable way to get fresh fruits and vegetables in their lives.”
The University of Minnesota Extension Service has a program called Cooking Matters, which teaches healthy eating on a limited budget. The kids in the program learn about food during each of the six weeks of summer school.
Ceann Klug, of Cooking Matters, said the program has a chef who volunteers their time to teach the kids cooking skills and help them prepare a treat.
Klug said the kids also receive a nutrition lesson and keep a journal about their experience.
When asked to read their journals, the kids eagerly shared some of their favorite ingredients: peas, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, sweet corn, raspberries, garlic, onions, among others.
And the adults at the farmers market, such as Shelly Patnode, also like to see the kids learning about healthy food.
She said that along with learning cooking skills, the kids also learn about different cultures.
“You know, you go to somebody else’s house, you don’t know what they’re cooking for dinner. Not like years ago, you know it was mashed potatoes and chicken,” she said.
The kids in the program learn that riding your bike more than 10 miles in a day makes you hungry — which is the best time to think about healthy eating.