Duval 4-H to Compete in State Food Challenge

The 4-H program helps youth find new interests that spark their desire to learn and teach others. One 4-H member’s spark has led him to form a team and compete in the new Florida 4-H Food Challenge.

A Passion for Cooking

Cole is a middle school student who loves cooking. For years, he’s participated in the 4-H Holiday Bake-Off and 4-H Cooking Camp. His first 4-H demonstration was how to make a cheesy egg crescent casserole. If there’s an opportunity to cook, Cole wants to know more.

Last summer, Cole attended a statewide leadership event called 4-H iLEAD, where he learned about the new Florida 4-H Cooking Challenge. In this contest, teams of 3-4 youth are assigned a secret ingredient and given a budget to “shop” at the 4-H grocery store. They work to prepare a dish, determine the cost per serving, highlight the nutrients found in the ingredients, and develop a presentation on their food, all in 40 minutes.

Cooking with Company

When Cole returned to from 4-H iLEAD, he was excited to form a team and compete. In January, Cole and three other 4-H middle school students traveled to Ocala to participate in the Northeast District 4-H Food Challenge. The youth had spent time studying food safety and strategizing. Now it was time to prepare a dish. As judges observed the team, the Duval youth opened a paper bag left on their table. Inside, the contest coordinators revealed the assignment. The team needed to create a side dish using fresh green beans. Over the next 40 minutes, the team designed a recipe and crafted a veggie stir fry. But they weren’t finished yet.

After they finished cooking, they still needed to develop a 3–5-minute presentation on their dish and clean their workspace. The group began crafting a presentation outline and cleaning off their table. They put their last items away right as time was called. Success! Then the group waited their turn to present the veggie stir fry to the judges.

Serving Up Life Skills

While the team experienced several hiccups along the way, they worked together to find creative solutions. Not only did they practice cooking skills, they were also developing decision making, problem solving, stress management, communication, and teamwork skills. All their hard work paid off, and the team is now heading to the state contest in Tampa this February! Best of luck to our team of super chefs.

If you would like to learn more about 4-H clubs, contests, and cooking programs, email us at duval4h@ifas.ufl.edu. We would love to help your child find their spark!


Posted: February 10, 2023

Category: 4-H & Youth, Clubs & Volunteers, Curriculum

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