As an all-volunteer run non-profit, our volunteers make our mission come to life in Chicago Public Schools everyday, in a variety of ways! From Delicious Nutritious Adventure leaders to fundraising- and everything in between! We are so thankful for our volunteers and everything that they do to help us make nutrition and cooking education fun for kids.
Check out what Robin Skiadas, one of our classroom assistants does, which ultimately inspires Chicago children to cook and eat healthy:
1) How did you first become aware of Purple Asparagus? Why did you decide to volunteer for Delicious Nutritious Adventures?
I was actively looking to become involved with an organization that was teaching kids about healthy eating. I love to cook healthy foods for my family and I see how excited my daughter can be when she eats a new fruit/vegetable and likes it!
2) What do you love most about the organization? About volunteering?
Purple Asparagus goes into the classroom once month during school hours which was convenient for me and as an assistant I like the flexibility of choosing which days and times worked with my schedule. The program teaches a different seasonal curriculum each month and is usually a surprise for the students. They get so excited when we are there, they are ‘food explorers’ and some take the role very seriously trying to compare and contrast all the things they are tasting using our food vocabulary words. I really feel they are learning new ways of appreciating fresh foods that many have never tried in a very supportive, fun way. Some are trying these foods for the first time.
3) What are the most memorable moments from a recent volunteer experience? (for Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Delicious Nutritious Adventures). About the foods and recipes?
Julie and Art do an amazing job teaching! This month was different because they were asked to use their sense of smell and touch for the ‘tasting’ part. So many kids indicated that what they were smelling was familiar: gum, pizza, grandma’s bath, etc. Many were curious and did taste the herbs. We had parsley, rosemary, sage and basil. They were asked to pick one (or more if they wanted) herb to mix into a yogurt dip. The recipe part of the lesson is exciting for them, they have some control over what they are making so it makes the tasting part more enjoyable.
4) Are there any particular kids’ reactions or comments that stuck with you?
We count to 3 and everyone takes a bite at the same time (supportive and fun!). I just love the look of surprise that comes over their faces when they actually like something. In another lesson I had a child say to me, “This is the best day of my life!” Some children wanted to share that they were growing different herbs at their house. The popcorn recipe demonstrated the idea that you could use the herbs as a healthy way to season foods without using salt or cheese.
5) Also, do you any thoughts on this Delicious Nutritious Adventure as compared to last year’s Herb curriculum?
We did not have the tasting ‘placemat’ last year. These large colorful pictures of the plants they are tasting is a huge addition. Something to make the tasting part more structured and visual. And it is something to bring home and remember all the great stuff they learned and to share the recipes with someone at home to make again.