Cooking Crew- The Radical Transformation of School Food






Cooking Crew is a food education activity where students create a meal to serve to their peers. Every Monday and Wednesday middle schoolers at Comegys Elementary are responsible for cooking for the 120 kids and adults in the after-school program. Here’s the curriculum. Here’s the flow of activities during cooking crew:

  1. Team Meeting– students and mentors put on uniforms, review scores, create daily plan and sign up for tasks, are awarded pins, and begin set-up tasks.
  2. There are 2 set-up tasks, and students divide themselves to complete them. 1-2 students create the recipe for the next week. The rest of the students set-up their team’s 4-bin systemwash their hands, sanitize surfaces, wash ingredients, and begin to cook.
  3. The main task of cooking crew is creating lots of really tasty food in a safe, clean environment. Students master a variety of techniques. During cooking time, if a student isn’t engaged he/she can earn points at the fitness station or in an enrichment activity (art, journalism, documentary media).
  4. Cooking Crew fosters peer education. Encourage early elementary teachers to send a select few young students to participate in cooking crew (it’s a proven incentive to encourage good classroom behavior).
  5. The end of cooking crew is dedicated to food service and clean-up. All cooking tools are cleaned, dried, organized, and inventoried. 4-bin systems are dismantled. Students who researched the nutritional benefits and cuisine of their dishes get precedent to serve. All chefs eat after the whole community is served.
  6. After many weeks of Cooking Crew, the team with the most points wins the Watermelon Cup. The chef with the most points with the Pineapple Trapohy for Most Valuable Chef.

Here’s how to get a cooking crew started at your school:

  1. Find space. The gym (with tables) or cafeteria is ideal, but any open classroom (or picnic tables outside) will work. Access to a water source and drain is key.
  2. Divide the students into teams (we had 3 on each day- red, blue, black).
  3. Recruit adult mentors. There should be at least 1 adult per team to supervise cooking (we had 2-4). If possible, find an adult to float around the cooking space making sure everyone is cooking good food safely (an experienced pro or home cook/chef is ideal). Finding adults to supervise fitness, art, journalism, and documentary media stations is also idea.
  4. Gather supplies. You will need cooking tools, cleaning bins, serving dishes, aprons, hats, cameras etc. Organize them by team. You will also need food to cook each week. Think locally. Through a relationship with Bartram’s Farm and Community Food Resource Center, we cooked with the freshest produce in Philadelphia.
  5. Print out the materials you need to stay organized and keep score.

Apr 28, 2015 | Category: cooking crew recipes | Comments: none