MicroGreens Program Looks To Expand Healthy Eating For Kids | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Filed Under:

MicroGreens Program Looks To Expand Healthy Eating For Kids

Play associated audio
Students at Shaw Middle School learn to shop smart and cook healthily as part of a new initiative, MicroGreens, lead by Chef Alli Sosna.
Emily Berman
Students at Shaw Middle School learn to shop smart and cook healthily as part of a new initiative, MicroGreens, lead by Chef Alli Sosna.

When we met the D.C.-based chef Alli Sosna back in October 2012, she was starting MicroGreens, an after-school program to teach middle school students about buying and cooking food on a budget. She saw that kids actually liked healthy fruits and vegetables, but that, at home, they didn't get much of them.

MicroGreens is wrapping up its pilot class, after it's 8-week trial run. How did it go?

Very well, says Sosna. "In 8 weeks we found kids were cooking more at home, and using their knife skills more at home. They're helping out, they're shopping more, and that's the whole point. Cooking awareness."

For the last MicroGreens class of the year, the students took part in a culinary competition. There are four stations set up in the cafeteria kitchen at Shaw Middle School, with four students and one teacher at each station. One group is slicing carrots, another butchering a whole chicken, the other searing a chicken breast, and the last, portioning off how much of each ingredient goes into one serving of chicken stir-fry. Not the portion you'd order in a restaurant; the amount you can have on food stamps.

Sewit Seyoum is methodically separating a chicken leg from the body. Seyoum is a tall, thin eighth grader, and the chef's knife is about as big as her forearm. Yet, when she's cutting, she's in complete control. "The class has been very worth my time. I've learned how to make a lot of green vegetables and how to cut a chicken. I think they've taught me a lot."

Alyse Krauss supervises the butchers in training. She's also a chef and has been volunteering to help with hands-on instruction. She has been surprised to see how enthusiastic and challenged they are by each lesson. "They surprise us with the stuff they want to know," says Krauss. "These kids love to chop carrots, will fight over who gets to chop the last carrot on the table."

Over at the searing station, Joy Hicks Parker, is standing a few feet away from her daughter Nikira, proudly watching her check her chicken for proper browning, the signal that it's time to flip. Hicks-Parker says Nikira is more helpful in the kitchen, constantly suggesting new recipes and techniques.

While Sosna is happy with the first round of MicroGreens classes, she will make adjustments based on student feedback. The class size will also go down from 16 to about 12 kids. And when the next semester of MicroGreens starts up in March, they'll go from one DCPS middle school to three. The program will also be launching in Newark, N.J. By fall 2013, Sosna expects to be in Pennsylvania and Delaware as well.


[Music: "Green Eyes (Instrumental)" by Coldplay from A Rush of Blood to the Head]

Photos: Microgreens

NPR

FX's 'The Bridge' Finds Authenticity In Spanish-Language Scenes

NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans visited the set of FX's cross-border crime drama, discovering the way the show's Spanish-language scenes help reveal new dimensions to the series' Mexican characters.
NPR

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Researchers have found a gene that affects how strongly you experience bitter flavors. And those who aren't as sensitive eat about 200 more servings of vegetables per year.
NPR

Sen. Warren: We Need Regulators Who 'Work For The American People'

Elizabeth Warren tells NPR that newly released recordings of conversations by Federal Reserve officials show that the same kind of cozy relationships that led to the 2008 meltdown have continued.
NPR

'Ello' Aims For A Return To Ad-Free Social Networking

Ello is the viral social network of the moment. Ad free, invite only and with the option of anonymity, it's generating tons of chatter as the latest alternative to Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.