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Citizen Schools – Take Back the Kitchen

by Shilpi Roongta

10 vol­un­teers from the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute have been involved in an exciting volunteering program through Cit­i­zen Schools, in partnership with Haley House in Dudley Sqaure. Cit­i­zen Schools is a national not-for-profit orga­ni­za­tion aiming to improve inner city education by extending the school day through the use of “apprenticeships”.  Apprenticeships are taught once a week by “Citizen Teachers”, or local community members with proficiency in various areas. These teachers range from college students to lawyers to corporate employees and they select the subject of their apprenticeship according to their interest and expertise with a focus on building the students’, or apprentices, “21st Century Skills”. These skills are considered to be necessary for the apprentices’ success and include collaboration, oral presentation, teamwork, global awareness and problem solving. Apprenticeships culminate with a “WOW!”, which is the last session of the apprenticeship where students showcase what they have learned for their family, friends and community members.

This semester’s apprenticeship, called “Take Back the Kitchen”, has 16 eighth graders from the Orchard Gardens Public K-8 School in Roxbury. Previous students from the “Bizkids” apprenticeship had been clamoring for more food-based activities, and we heard them loud and clear! The apprenticeship’s goal is to teach the apprentices about what they are eating, where it comes from and how it is grown, how they can make better eating choices and how to cook. Northeastern Students have been planning in-class lessons that cover all of these areas through the use of videos, group activities, taste tests and short lectures. Additionally, every two weeks, the students are given a cooking lesson by Chef Vanessa LeBranche in the main kitchen at Haley House.

During this time is when the apprentices are learning the skills and recipes necessary to cook a full four-course meal that will be served during their WOW! on May 24th at Haley House. Each session has focused on one ingredient and one part of the menu. For example, the most recent cooking session focused on tomatoes and the soup or salad portion of the menu. In order to teach students healthy recipes that they can incorporate in their ever day lives they make not only a fancier item but a simple dish as well. They used the time in the kitchen to make a delicious baked Bruschetta and a Chicken Salad with a Lemon and Olive Oil based vinaigrette.

While the students always cringe at the sight of fresh vegetables in the beginning of the session, they have become masters at cutting and chopping them up and of course, eating them! These cooking lessons have proved to be a great way to get all students involved and to expose them to foods outside of their comfort zone of Pizza and Chicken Nuggets! With only a few sessions remaining, the students will be learning their entrée and dessert courses as well as ways they can make a difference by changing a few eating habits. If you are interested in this program and would like more information, please contact us at the SEI!

 

 

 

 

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