L. Cash, UF/IFAS Extension, Volusia County, DeLand, FL.
Situation and Objectives: Diversity and inclusion are critical concepts for youth to understand and put in practice (Tirell-Corbin, 2015). In 4-H, we focus on life skills related to STEM, Healthy Lifestyles, Citizenship and Leadership, and Workforce Preparation (Myers, 2012). What better way to promote acceptance and address our mandates than in the kitchen?
Educational Methods: In January 2020, twelve cooking classes were offered: three two-hour sessions every Wednesday, reaching 10-12 youth ages 5-17 per session. Classes ‘visited’ South America, Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia. Recipes were found online and lesson plans were developed using Serv-Safe® principles and 4-H Common Measures and Essential Elements.
Results: Youth (n=32) were evaluated by observation (knowledge/skills) for correct use of kitchen tools, proper washing of hands and equipment, and handling and storage of foods; and communicating, problem-solving, and contributing to a common goal. Youth were also assessed using guided discussion. The 4-H’ers inferred that people around the world are very similar (attitude): (1) they bond over food; (2) use the same ingredients to create like meals; and (3) define their cultures by the foods they eat (https://www.npr.org/2017/02/02/512998465/why-eating-the-same-food-increases-peoples-trust-and-cooperation). Participants learned the names of the foods they prepared, such as: pepparkakor, ratatouille, arepas, poori, and fassolatha, and tried foods and spices they had never tasted before. Time was spent on the history and cultural significance of the foods prepared.
Conclusion: Cooking classes are part of the Volusia County 4-H SPIN (Special Interest) program and are offered throughout the 4-H year. There was overwhelming positive response to this series of lessons and the best of all conclusions, thirty-two youth asking “When are we doing it again?” The larger implication is that youth taught at a young age that diversity and inclusion are valuable will grow up to be more aware and appreciative of other cultures (https://child.unl.edu/cultural-diversity).