ENGLEWOOD — Nearly two dozen children in an Englewood summer program spent Wednesday preparing and cooking healthy food with someone very familiar with the process: Girl and the Goat celebrity chef Stephanie Izard.
“The food is great,” said 10-year-old Kamarion McClain, one of the students in the Montessori School of Englewood’s summer program, which began July 6. The school, 6550 S Seeley Ave., partnered with local nonprofit the Gardeneers to help teach the children about growing food.
Gardeneers works with 20 schools on the South and West sides of Chicago, helping third through fifth graders to plant vegetables like carrots, lettuce, beets, potatoes and kale.
The organization’s director of development, Amanda Fieldman, helped coordinate Chefs in the Garden, a new initiative to promote healthy eating.
“My goal is that I want to get these kids excited about eating vegetables, and kind of change some of their preferences, because I know a lot of these kids eat a lot of processed foods, a lot of junk foods, lot of hot Cheetos,” Fieldman said. “We’re just trying to show them that vegetables can be fun and delicious, and help them start making healthy choices.”
Other chefs who have participated include Jared Batson of Nomad Food Company, Dan Olson of City Winery and Paul Virant of Perennial Virant.
Izard instructed the eager and attentive group of kids to pull potatoes and beets from their garden and bring them to the food preparation table. Many of them helped peel carrots before she expertly chopped them.
Izard said she supports Montessori schools and believes in promoting healthy lifestyles.
“It’s just a cool thing to see,” she said. “This promotes healthy eating, and it’s also just good to get outside and learn about where your food comes from. For kids to see how everything grows is awesome.”
With the assistance of her little helpers (and adult volunteers), Izard prepared a few quick and simple dishes, like miniature veggie rolls with fresh greens, potato salad with purple potatoes and a salad with bacon bits, greens, sun gold tomatoes and beets.
Many of the children hadn’t eaten things like beets or kale before.
“They are delicious,” said Heaven Shannon, 10, about the beets. She was on her fourth one. “This was fun and educational."
Marshay Jones, 10, said the entire experience was fun. She enjoyed everything from watering the plants to peeling vegetables and eating the meal.
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