A recent mini-chef course provided 2- to 12-year-olds in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, with several weeks of training in cooking. The initiative, launched in September 2022, resulted from a partnership between a child development project of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and the UniTFC nutrition program.
The goal of the initiative was to awaken the pleasure of cooking in children, organizers said, exploring a wholesome use of food according to the Brazilian Food Guide. Using basic, simple techniques, using the creativity of children to practice and taste numerous recipes that they made, the course provided fun and uncomplicated learning in the kitchen through classes offered by students of the Nutrition course, organizers explained.
According to Ane Caroline Casaes, nutritionist and professor at the UniFTC network, this dream initiative became a great learning experience. “The goal of the mini-chef cooking course is to foster growth in children. Growth results from children having contact with food and having food as a friend. Handling food is a very good way to start,” she said. Casaes explained that facilitators showed various aspects of food to the children, something that includes not only ingesting nutrients and getting healthy, but also considering food’s social importance.
According to project coordinator Luciene Rodrigues, it was a wonderful initiative to implement, and something that showed the synergy of collaboration. “This dream came true thanks to UniFTC assistance. ADRA couldn’t have done it alone. It’s a chain of good works,” she said.
Opportunity and Growth
Similarly, several mothers of the students said they were grateful for the opportunity ADRA and UniFTC offered their children. For them, projects like this one help develop children in important areas. “I really liked the development I witnessed in my two children,” Sara Santos, a mother of two students, said. “Now they can do things by themselves and learn about cooking and helping others. It was great to have this chance here in our neighborhood.”
In a special ceremony on November 1, 58 young chefs who completed the program were awarded a certificate. The partnership between ADRA and UniFTC was launched in early 2022, and it is expected to continue with other mini-chef initiatives, organizers said.
For nutrition student Danielly Lira, experiences such as this illustrate that what’s simple for an adult can be complicated for a child. At the same, it allows children to be immersed in practicing a new skill while leaving fear of the kitchen aside.
“This project is a two-way street, because we learn how to help a child,” she said. “For instance, making a pudding or a burger is so simple for us, but for the child, it’s surreal. When parents thank us, we really feel that we are contributing with some of our knowledge. I feel like we’re changing each child’s life a little bit.”