Kids In The Kitchen

February 20, 2012 · 5 comments

On Saturday, I volunteered with the Junior League of Boston as part of my placement, Kids In The Kitchen. I’ve mentioned my placement before but for a quick recap, KITK aims to educate young girls on nutrition and physical activity. Typically, we work with groups of girls ages 9-13 in Boston communities. Typically when we arrive, we give the girls oatmeal with fruit for breakfast. However when we arrived, there was a table full of high sugar cereals…

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This was not exactly what is supposed to happen. We were kinda bummed out. After going over what a healthy breakfast looks like, a few non-KITK volunteers provided the girls who refused to eat the oatmeal with some generic Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Sweet. Other Junior League volunteers work with the same group of girls every other Saturday. We travel around to different groups in the city. This was the first time, this has happened. After we showed them the importance of eating a good breakfast, the girls drew on paper plates what they ate for dinner.

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Afterwards, it was time for Zumba! I am not blessed in remembering choreography so I am not the biggest fan of Zumba or other dance based classes. I did enjoy participating. Young girls LOVE Zumba. We have a phenomenal instructor who the girls just adore.

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After Zumba, we went into the Kitchen to cook up some healthy meals. My station was making English Muffin Pizzas. One of these days I’m going to have a heart attack watching the girls cut up veggies small enough to fit on them. This recipe is also on my College Diet Plan so I’m always excited to show young girls how to make it at this age! Usually there is at least one girl who wants to just make a cheese pizza but the purpose of the recipe is to show how you can get in some veggies.

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The other volunteers help the girls make an apple chicken dish, as well as a spinach salad with cranberries, feta and apple. We finish the day with a make your own trail mix bar. The girls usually skip out on the yummy fruit like dried mango but the volunteers are always they do.

The day was success despite the rocky start to the morning. It’s frustrating to enter a room to talk about healthy breakfasts when pure sugar is staring at you in your face. The other volunteers argued that they girls would not eat the oatmeal and consequently would be hungry and complain. I’m sorry, but this was disrespectful for the KITK volunteers. We chose our placement because we care about nutrition education. “Oatmeal is a great way to start your day, but if you don’t like it, here are some high sugar cereals that at least taste good but have no redeeming qualities,” is the wrong message and not one we want the Junior League sending out.

Have you ever encountered a frustrating experience like we did on Saturday? How did you handle it?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sana February 21, 2012 at 1:37 am

Volunteering is super hard on it’s own and with kid’s its even more difficult. How about doing a demo with the sugar content in cereal or sod?. Like have the kids pour out how much sugar they think each item contains like soda ect. And show them the actual grams of sugar poured out.

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2 Kindal February 21, 2012 at 3:06 am

i get frustrated like this all the time. Running a boot camp for women, I have ladies who want to drop pounds, of course… when they don’t they always ask but why? It’s because of the pizza you just told me you ate this past weekend or the fried chicken you had with your family. Now i make them do 10 burpees everytime they do something like this. I even give meal plans so when they complain I simply say, I can only give you EVERYTHING I know, but it’s up to you to walk out of this class each day and use that info for your body.

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3 Nescett @Bananaoats.wordpress.com February 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm

What a great program! I’d love to see something like this in my community. It must have been super frustrating to be dealing with people who didn’t get the purpose. I find that often when you talk about healthy eating you have people who are just not interested.

My nine-year old daughter wants to get involved in my blog so we’re planning on having “Sophie Saturdays” Let’s see if it will encourage her to make better choices!

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4 Katy February 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm

On the one hand, I hear and understand your frustration. On the other — it really sounds like a failure on your part to recognize that this is an example of just what is wrong with organisations like the Junior League: an EXCLUSIVE (I mean that literally, in terms of both cost and sponsorship) group of privileged women taking up some “ladies’ social causes.” Many JL projects are infantilizing and take on a top-down approach. They are NOT grassroots-supported programs, and it makes sense. After all, they seem to have been designed to occupy bored housewives and make members feel better about having too much time and money. It’s always good to spend time with children–and even to work in a few lessons about food–but be real: would you have eaten that oatmeal as a kid? I’m not sure I would have. Some flexibility is OK, as well as a recognition that the Junior League might not be the best organization to teach about healthy living. It starts at home, and within communities.

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5 Sarah February 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Katy, Thank you for your comment. I do agree that these fundamentals need to be taught in the household. Our hope is that they go home and share the recipes with their families. I’ll admit oatmeal was not my favorite breakfast but I would eat it if I was given it. To be honest, I used to have one slice of toast with peanut butter or just 1/2 a grapefruit! It was all I wanted… I think if all I wanted was a handful of fruit loops my mother would have said no.

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