By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
On a chilly January afternoon, nine teen-age guys sat around tables at the Stevenson House listening attentively as Asia Thurston reviewed sources of protein and the distinction between proteins and diary.
Asia is a Community Nutrition Educator for the Food Bank of Delaware, and she takes her Kid C.H.E.F. program on the road to schools, child care centers and even unlikely locations like the Stevenson House.
The William Marion Stevenson House Detention Center in Milford is a lock-secure facility staffed for 55 pre-adjudicated male and female youth under the age of 18 years old.
Visitors must have permission to enter, and youth rehabilitative counselors are seated near the teens in the cafeteria where Ms. Thurston presents her lessons.
C.H.E.F. is an acronym for Cooking Health Easy Foods, so Asia selects recipes that students can prepare at home with or without supervision.
As part of the program, each student goes home with a small draw-string backpack loaded with kitchen utensils and an oven mitten mitt, and additionally they receive the recipes from class in the Kid C.H.E.F. package.
The teens respond as Asia peppers them with questions: Who can name a protein? Who has tried tofu?
Last week’s 60-minute lesson centers around turkey tacos, and this instructor hands out can openers along with cans of tomatoes and beans.
“They really love this,” said Andrea Wojcik, communications coordinator for Delaware’s Services for Children, Youth & Families, the state agency which oversees the youth housed in this facility.
After using hand sanitizer and donning plastic gloves, teens volunteer to participate in the preparation, then joke amongst themselves as the ground turkey browns in the electric skillet.
One young man, identified as C., his first initial, said he enjoyed the Kid C.H.E.F. experience.
“I like to cook. It’s fun,” he said, adding that he cooked for his sister while his mother worked.
J., 17, said he’s been cooking since he was 11 years old and also worked the grill in a restaurant.
The program is free to all children who qualify. To sponsor a child for this program, contact Larry Haas, Development Director at email@example.com. The cost of $72 includes the chef equipment and tote bag, food to prepare recipes and take-home nutrition education materials and activities for the family.
For more information about hosting a Kid C.H.E.F. class in Kent or Sussex Counties, contact Asia at (302) 393-2013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.