Obesity in America’s children is increasing, with more than 1 in 5 American kids classified as obese. This can cause serious health problems and lifelong issues if not combated early on. Some common causes of childhood obesity are the nutritional quality of the food eaten and eating patterns and behaviors. With these causes in mind, the CHEF program was born.
Created in 2017, CHEF holds the core belief that food is medicine. The program aims to teach children and families the basics of nutrition and simple, healthy cooking habits that are easy to implement in their busy schedules. Giving families the tools to incorporate healthy habits into their daily meals empowers them to live happier, healthier lives.
CHEF in the Classroom
Pre-K 4 SA is deeply committed to promoting the health and well-being of our children and families. One of the programs we’re particularly proud to offer is CHEF, which is fully aligned with our goals and the principles of our HighScope curriculum.
We’re excited to say that CHEF brings a range of benefits to our classrooms, particularly in terms of active learning. Their approach incorporates all five key ingredients of active learning: hands-on materials, choice, manipulation, scaffolding, and individualized feedback. This means that children are constantly engaged, developing important skills and receiving tailored guidance as they learn.
The curriculum is designed to be completely hands-on and encourages active learning from start to finish. Children have the opportunity to develop their fine motor skills and follow instructions to create a delicious final product. At the same time, teachers provide feedback and ask open-ended questions that challenge children to think critically about what they’re doing.
Since launching a pilot program in 2019, we’ve been thrilled to see our children’s tremendous enthusiasm and engagement. As a result, the program was expanded and every month a CHEF lesson is taught in all classrooms at each educational center and Gardendale.
Expanding access to CHEF
Pre-K 4 SA strives to provide our students with the best possible educational experiences. That’s why we’re proud to have adapted CHEF lessons initially designed for older children to suit the needs of our 3- and 4-year-olds. We use child-friendly utensils that are age-appropriate and safe, and our recipes don’t require the use of an oven or stovetop.
Our recipe cards are particularly exciting for young children, as they utilize pictures, words and numbers to provide developmentally stimulating step-by-step instructions. Plus, we don’t just offer these experiences during class time – parents are invited to participate in CHEF After Hours events at each of our Education Centers and Gardendale. These events allow families to experience CHEF together and provide opportunities to learn new skills and techniques that can be used at home.
We’re thrilled to see CHEF’s positive impact on our families. As one parent at Gardendale noted, “I was able to try new things with my son and bring the things I learned home to let him help me in the kitchen. Using CHEF’s tips and tricks made me feel much more comfortable having him help me cook.”
We’ve even expanded access to CHEF through our grants program, allowing partners to bring CHEF lessons to their campuses. Julie Taylor, our CHEF Professional Learning Specialist, works closely with partners at every step to ensure a hands-on and immersive professional development experience that equips educators to bring CHEF into their classrooms.
Thanks to these efforts, CHEF is now taught in 195 schools and has reached an impressive 64,000 students, with half a million lessons taught in San Antonio. We’re excited to continue expanding access to this valuable program and seeing its positive impact on our students and families.
CHEF Transforming Nutrition
CHEF brings practical and affordable nutrition solutions to families throughout San Antonio. CHEF is an educational tool that shows how certain ingredients interact to increase nutritional value, learn portion control and provides vital information on how to transform weekly meals. The best part about CHEF is the children love it! “Hands down, my favorite part about CHEF is modeling lessons and interacting in the classroom. I love seeing children learn skills to prepare their own food and their excitement to cut, measure, and even read a recipe all on their own. Most people can’t believe that young children are tasting raw bell peppers, lettuce, green onions, and many other ingredients they may not be exposed to if it weren’t for CHEF. Even if they don’t enjoy the recipe, I can always get them to try something, and they are always engaged because they do everything themselves,” said Julie.
CHEF is changing how San Antonio is dieting and creating a lasting impact that will make our city healthier. To learn more about the CHEF, visit their website and see how your family can benefit from this incredible program.