Through our youth group, at-risk Guatemalan students have the opportunity to participate in many activities outside of school that are both educational and social. The idea is to provide youth with a well-rounded set of experiences that will help them to feel more connected at school and in their community and to develop the skills to be successful adults. A great example is a recent cooking class taught by Lia Huber, a well-respected chef from California who was volunteering in Guatemala on a Vision Team.
While the kids most often bake cakes and other desserts, Lia was interested in teaching ways to incorporate more vegetables into their diet. This was a great opportunity to expand on the group's knowledge and skills.
With all of her cooking, Lia strives to find recipes that are healthy and also delicious, so people eat vegetables because they enjoy them. Turns out that the barriers to eating nutritious foods in Guatemala don’t differ much from those Lia encounters in the U.S. These include limited time to cook, inability to afford fresh foods, and her personal favorite, the impression that kids don’t like vegetables. Still, Lia was determined to show that vegetables can be delicious and not too complicated to prepare.
During the class, the students listened to a mini lecture from Lia on being mindful of diet (“do you feel energized after you eat a bag of chips?”) and basic nutrition (“the micronutrients that make vegetables look so beautiful and smell so strong and taste so wonderful are exactly what make them so good for you too”). Then, they worked with Lia to make caramelized squash and onions and sautéed Swiss chard with toasted garlic.
The kids loved the food, to Lia's joy — they polished off every last bite. One teen said he didn’t like onions at the beginning of the class. By the end, he was eating the caramelized onions out of the pan.
The following day, it was even more clear the class had made an impression. At the Vision Team’s farewell ceremony, one of the boys who was clearly a leader gave a moving speech as he thanked Lia for teaching them. Another girl who was quite shy during the class approached her and proudly declared she used her new knife skills cutting potatoes that morning.
The class was a great opportunity for the youth we serve and demonstrates well the diversity of enriching experiences made possible by your support of our secondary education and youth program.