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How an elementary school started up a cooking club

Photograph: Shutterstock

Each week, students at Brookview Elementary School in East Point, Ga., are able to meet, learn and cook as part of the school’s Cooking Chemistry Club.

Brookview Principal Jovita Wallace shares what happens during the meetings and how the school garnered support from the community to begin the club.

Q: Describe a typical club meeting. 

The meetings begin with the students reviewing the safety rules for the kitchen, handwashing and a description of the recipes for the day. The stations are prepped in advance with the necessary ingredients and materials for the recipes. The students are responsible for preparing various dishes at the stations using and following their recipes.

The Cooking Chemistry Club sponsors (Tonya Tatum, cafeteria manager; Chantay Pharr, foodservice worker; Wallace; and Atiya Carruth, bookkeeper) provide cooking supervision and modeling as needed. Once the meals are completed, the students are allowed to feast and journal about the experience. 

Q: How is chemistry worked into the club? 

At the elementary level, we speak about the physical and [chemical] changes that occur while cooking, such as cutting and caramelization. We also incorporate the math associated with cooking when talking about measurements, fractions and doubling recipes.

Q: Were there any challenges with getting the club started? How did you solve them?

Initially, we weren’t sure if kids would be interested in joining this club being that there are other clubs offered. We also weren’t sure if our nutrition department would give Brookview permission to utilize the kitchen for the students to cook. Lastly, we had to make sure all of the equipment was safe and kid-friendly.

To solve these issues, we publicized the club with various stakeholders to solicit interest (e.g. parents, students, and community partners). We contacted Fulton County School Nutrition to get approval for the kitchen usage. Lastly, we bargain-shopped for kid safety cooking equipment. 

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