Students from Tench Tilghman Middle School washed, chopped, and assembled ingredients for an intergenerational meal on May 14 with residents from Apostolic Towers and Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) students. The event was hosted by the Hopkins students in an effort to increase the middle schoolers’ exposure to fresh, healthy foods they can eat at home with their families. The evening’s menu consisted of turkey and white bean chili, sweet potato and kale veggie burgers, zucchini pizzas, and fruit salad.
“The point of this event is interaction and exposure to cooking because it promotes family and quality time at home,” explains Leah Hart, a member of the JHUSON Accelerated Class of 2010.
Hart received a grant from the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association to develop the intergenerational cooking series with middle schoolers and residents of Apostolic Towers, a senior housing complex near the School’s East Baltimore campus.
Kendell Jordan, a student at Tench Tilghman Middle School, chopped pineapple as he discussed the skills he was learning. “I don’t really know how to cook, [and] when I come here they teach us so when I cook something [at home] I already know the steps,” he says. Jordan attended a similar intergenerational cooking event in March where he learned how to make chicken stir fry, a meal he replicated at home for his family.
Many of the middle schoolers list ice cream, chips, and other packaged foods among their snacks of choice, but plan to incorporate some of the healthier foods they’ve been exposed to through the cooking series. Rasheda Grier, another Tench Tilghman student, says that she cooks all the time at home, and will strive to eat healthier snacks “Most of the time, but not all the time.”
This event is in line with a national movement under way to interest kids in eating healthy, with high profile leaders such as First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama and chef Jamie Oliver. Oliver created “Jamie’s Food Revolution,” a television series and movement to educate people about food and cooking, with an emphasis on increasing healthy options in school cafeterias.