Kids in BoCo have it pretty good, as evidenced by the outstanding plethora of classes, camps, and other fun extra-curricular activities touched on in this issue. Lucky for the mini-foodies among us, BoCo adults take their offspring’s food education pretty seriously—both in the classroom and out of it.
Take, for example, our local “renegade lunch lady,” Ann Cooper. She’s known as a renegade because she has the crazy idea that kids should be getting healthy, natural foods from their school cafeteria, rather than processed, chemical-laden pseudo-food. A nationally renowned chef, author, educator and food advocate, she has helped transform lunchrooms in the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado as well as the Berkeley Unified School District in California to incorporate real foods, not just on the lunch trays but also in the curriculum and the classroom.
Another good local food citizen is The Kitchen [Community], the non-profit arm of the successful family of restaurants in both Boulder and Denver. After years of supporting the Boulder Growe Foundation, which helps construct school gardens, owners Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk established The Kitchen [Community] in 2011 and began creating open source, modular learning gardens for schools. The restaurants support the project by donating 20 percent of sales every Monday during Community Night at The Kitchen [Upstairs], and 100 percent of sales on Community Day at The Kitchen [Next Door].
Of course, in the best of all possible worlds, food education starts at home. If you and your family need a refresher in healthy eating, we suggest Kitchen Coach Mary Collette Rogers’ farmers’ market tours and cooking classes. Tour the Boulder or Louisville farmers’ market and then return to the kitchen with your bounty for an educational (and delicious) cooking experience. Older kids are also invited to participate, creating a solid food foundation on which your family can build.
For kids who prefer to learn sans parents, look to local cooking schools cater to the under 18 set. Stir It Up Cooking in Boulder (stiritupcooking.com) offers after school programs, one-day classes, summer camps, and parties for kids from 5 to 16, teaching a variety of cooking skills and fun cooking experiences. Young Chefs Academy in Westminster (youngchefsacademy.com) also offers classes, camps and parties, as well as programs for school groups and scouts that combine cooking skills with education in all the basic cognitive subject areas.
The foundation of a healthy life begins with a healthy education around food. Lucky for us, we live in an area that takes great pride in raising—and feeding—healthy kids.
Support and Education:
1. Become a member of The Kitchen [Community] to support their learning garden projects, and receive invitations to members-only events or volunteer for a community build day. thekitchencommunity.org
2. Donate to Ann Cooper’s non-profit, the Food Family Farming Foundation, and support her healthy lunch box initiatives. foodfamilyfarming.org
3. Dine at The Kitchen [Upstairs] on Monday nights during Community Night, when 20 percent of the profits are donated to The Kitchen [Community]—plus, it’s one of the county’s coolest “family-style” dining experiences.
4. Get involved at your neighborhood school. The National Farm to School Network provides an arsenal of tools to help you get local food in your school cafeteria. farmtoschool.org
5. Start at home. Take your kids to a farm or the farmers’ market. Cook and eat local, seasonal produce. Make real food a priority at your house.