Hello all! I’d like to introduce myself – my name is Lisa Harkins and I am a Registered Dietitian. I am the Food Bank of Delaware’s Community Nutritionist for Kent and Sussex Counties, and have been with the organization for two months now. Previously I was a clinical dietitian with Bayhealth Medical Centers, caring for patients at Milford Memorial and Kent General Hospitals. I enjoyed my work with Bayhealth very much, but was ecstatic to get back into my first love: community nutrition.
I frequently tell my friends and family I have “the best job in the world.” I get to teach individuals (which include children, adults, seniors, pregnant women and new moms) who receive or qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating. Why is this “the best job in the world?” Because nutrition and good health is my passion, and my “students” are some of the most gracious, appreciative (not to mention adorable – check out our Kid CHEF program pictures!), friendly and enthusiastic people I have ever had the privilege to meet!
I just recently taught my first Kid CHEF (Cooking Healthy Easy Foods) class at the Coverdale Crossroads Community Center in Bridgeville. Kid CHEF is a children’s cooking class that incorporates the five main food groups of the USDA’s MyPyramid. The program is taught in five, one-hour modules, with each class featuring nutrition information, activities, and a recipe the children actively prepare themselves focusing on a particular food group (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and beans). On the first day the children receive a nylon drawstring bag filled with a chef hat, oven mitt, apron, and a variety of utensils, measuring cups and spoons that they will use during the week-long program.
It is amazing how much the kids enjoy the class, and how fun cooking and even learning can be for them. I was frequently surprised at the amount of information they retained from the previous day’s module, and it is obvious that by doing, and not just being passive observers, the children are more actively engaged and committed to the program. I met one mom the following week at an agency meeting we held here in Milford, and she said her son, Ellis, LOVED the class, and all he wanted to do now was help in the kitchen and cook meals for the family!
I smile when I hear my friends say they have the “Sunday Blues” or that they are “working for the weekend”… because I know that I get excited to wake up every day and go to a job that is truly my life’s work…and that is to be the Community Nutritionist at the Food Bank of Delaware, and to know that I made a difference in the life of one small boy named Ellis.