By Denys Godwin, corps member serving on National Grid team at Blackstone Elementary School
In four words, one student at Blackstone Elementary School eloquently summed up the idea of theCookbook Project (CBP): “Food gives us feelings.”
This semester, in collaboration with the Blackstone, CBP, and theBarbara Lynch Foundation, our team incorporated a lesson plan from the Cookbook Project curriculum each week during our extended day program. Thus far, students have made their own recipe books, learned the difference between whole foods and processed foods, and created their own fruit salads.
Recently, we were lucky to have CBP’s co-founders, Adam Aronovitz and Alissa Bilfield, visit and teach our students about the origins of different ingredients.
“It’s about educating students, especially in urban areas with higher immigrant populations, to empower them to take back control of their food,” Aronovitz said. “A lot of times we see people give up control over what they eat to fast food restaurants and processed food makers, and we want to fill that knowledge gap. We also want to teach cooking skills, so that young Americans can learn how to make dishes that connect them to their cultural heritage.”
During their visit, students played a game called Spice Trade—where they guide a blindfolded classmate to find a spice jar. After this game, the students moved to a larger space. In each corner of the room, corps member held signs reading either, “Europe,” “Africa,” “Asia and the Middle East,” or “The Americas.” When a food item was called, student had to move to the corner where they think the food originated.
For chocolate, Aronovitz stretched the learning a bit farther. When the students made it to the Americas corner of the room he asked, “Where in the Americas do you think chocolate is from? What country?” He took a few answers, then said, “Actually, it’s Mexico! So if you like chocolate, say, ‘Thank you Mexico!’”
The students called out, “Thank you, Mexico!”
After that activity, the students returned to their desks, and wrote a story about how an ingredient such as chocolate might have made its way into other parts of the world. Our 3rd grade students, we wrote a story about how Adam the lumberjack from Spain went to Asia to chop trees. While there, he found an apple tree, ate the apple, and brought the seeds back to Spain. Juan*, another 3rd grader, volunteered to act out the whole story as it was read aloud to the group.
The students were sad to see Aronovitz and Bilfield leave, but every student went home with the knowledge that the world of food was bigger and deeper than they had known before.
To learn more about the Cookbook Project, read Cook the Change YOU Wish to See in the World. CBP Co-Founder Adam Aronovitz guest writes to tell us more about their program.
* NAME CHANGED TO PROTECT STUDENT’S PRIVACY