Teens learn healthy cooking

© 2018-Lake Powell Chronicle

It's all due to the library's portable kitchen.

The Page Public Library introduced their newest teaching tool to Page’s youth earlier this summer.


The library recently purchased a new custom-made, portable kitchenette made by the Charlie Cart Project specifically for the Page Public Library. The portable kitchen was made for the teen groups with hopes of teaching them how to cook simple meals during the summer break.


The first teen cooking class was in mid-June, during which students learned how to make fajitas.


It was a great success, said library director Debbie Winlock.


“I believe we had 16 teens attend the class,” she said. “It was a pretty good turn out and the food was good. We ordered the cart and it is meant to be used as a teaching [station]. It comes with all these supplies to teach the teen groups to cook for themselves.”


The cooking classes’ goals supports self-sufficiency and healthy eating habits which is the foundation of the Charlie Cart program.


The library and the Page Community Center will utilize the cart for its adult cooking classes as well, which are held at the community center.


Winlock and the instructor, Jennifer Kelly, also had to attend classes on the curriculum and how to use the mobile cooking station.


The Page public library is now one of 100 sites nationwide and one of two sites in Arizona that has a cook station.  


The Charlie Cart Project Organization is a nationwide program that began in 2014 with Carolyn Federman’s career in food education. The idea for the project has now grown to a food education campaign complete with kitchenette to teach K-12 grades about healthy eating while integrating an educational curriculum using math, social studies, and other area of study.


“Today, many children in this country take their main – and sometimes only – meals at school,” said a spokesman for the organization. “They are not eating together with their families, and they don't know where their food comes from. Over the course of their lifetime, their food choices will impact not only their own health, but the health of their communities and the environment.”


The library received $10,000 for the Charley’s Cart Project from the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State; and federal funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services .


“We hope that we will keep having the classes year round. It comes with so many supplies”, said Winlock.


The mobile kitchenette includes a removable cook top; a hidden convection oven; sink with spray nozzle and grey water recovery, bowls, measuring utensils, cookware, pots and pans, including outlets and built-in power cord.


“Next months calendar hasn’t been printed yet but [Jennifer Kelly] will be teaching Fast Foods to the teens, at the community center, how to make healthy chicken nuggets. Then she will have nuggets from [a popular fast food place] and teach them how they are made”, Winlock stated with the surety that the class will be full of surprised looks. The first of the Fast Food classes have already begun with the June 27 class teaching the teens how to cook tacos and to substitute the preservative and MSG loaded ingredients for natural ingredients such as pink salt or spices for flavor.


Winlock expects to have a firm schedule for classes on their July calendar, but will keep the cooking class schedule as a guide. The calendars for the library and the community center can also be found at their webpage or www.pagepubliclibrary.org.


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