Twenty-three families walked away with much more than the ingredients and tools to prepare five meals at the recent ‘Food with Friends’ event held at Woodland Elementary.
The event brought families together to build community -- and to learn more about healthy lifestyles, how to eat on a budget, and how to shop and prepare nutritious and tasty meals.
‘Food with Friends’ is a pilot program hosted by the Caring Community Collaborative (C3) and Lakota’s Child Nutrition Department with the help of many other community organizations that donated supplies to make the event possible.
Lakota Board of Education President and C3 Board Member Lynda O’Connor spearheaded the event, which began as an offshoot of the Empty Bowls project (which raises funds for Reach Out Lakota and the Faith Alliance’s Outreach for the Summer Lunch Program). “We wanted families to learn practical ways to promote healthy lifestyles, and build stronger families as a result.”
The evening program was led by Chris Burkhardt, Lakota’s Director of Wellness and Child Nutrition. He shared shopping tips, new recipes, and even demonstrated knife skills to help prepare ingredients.
Each family was given a cutting board, knives and ingredients to follow along. The idea was to provide basic ingredients (chicken breasts, beans, onions, peppers and zucchini) and then pair them with a starch or a sauce to make five different meals.
“This program is just one initiative that will help the Lakota community make healthier choices, both at school and at home. Providing healthier choices can have an impact on long-term eating habits,” said Burkhardt.
Parents and older students worked side-by-side preparing the ingredients to take home. Younger students participated in a number of fun and educational activities centered around making healthy food choices.
Attendees of the pilot program have high praise for ‘Food with Friends’. Amber Smith, parent of a Woodland fourth-grader, said she was able to take away a lot of healthy tips for her children.“It was a great atmosphere; they should do it once a month!” Woodland parent Vicky Arand agreed. “It was a fun way to learn how to prepare healthy foods.”
Organizers hope to garner enough community support to offer programs like this at other venues in West Chester and Liberty Township.