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Given the chance, most kids like to learn about food and healthy choices. A Chicago-area nonprofit, Pilot Light, ran a food education program for 1,500 elementary school students and found that 95 percent enjoyed their food lessons and, because of the program:
- 93% know that their food choices will affect their future health
- 93% believe it’s important to know the ingredients in their food
- 86% like trying new foods
- 83% believe it’s important to know where food comes from
- 78% feel they can choose healthy foods in the lunch room
Unfortunately, most schools don’t have the resources to provide hands-on, engaging food instruction, but dietitians and chefs are teaming up to work out ways to solve the problem. The country’s largest school foodservice company, Chartwells K12, has been working with Pilot Light in Chicago and, to cover a bigger geographical area, has launched the Mobile Teaching Kitchen. It’s literally a fully equipped, traveling kitchen that moves from city to city by truck.
Using a recipe-driven format similar to popular food TV shows, chefs and dietitians in the mobile kitchen teach, demonstrate, advocate healthy choices, and let kids do some cooking. They turn food education into a fun experience that helps kids get on a healthy path, and may help parents, too. Among graduates of the Pilot Light program, 74 percent felt confident about advising their parents on food choices.