Clemson teaches youth about cooking for healthy lifestyles
GREENVILLE — All of his life, David Rosemond has had adults tell him to eat his vegetables. After taking part in a Healthy Lifestyles Cooking Camp, he now knows why he should eat his vegetables.
David, 7, was one of many youths who participated in the cooking camp, hosted by Clemson University 4-H and the Greenville Health Systems. The camp was held all around South Carolina this summer in 11 counties. Margaret Condrasky, a registered dietitian and professor in the Clemson University food, nutrition and packaging sciences department, said the camp focuses on teaching the campers about healthy food choices, cooking techniques and kitchen safety.
“Youth who participate in the camp learn what foods are good for them to eat and how to prepare these foods so that they can remain healthy,” Condrasky said. “We want to show young people that healthy foods also can be fun to prepare and delicious to eat.”
Some of the foods the youth learned how to prepare included: chicken stir fry with brown rice, chopped vegetable salad with vinaigrette, manicotti, macaroni and cheese with spinach, eggplant parmesan, omelets, whole wheat and vegetable pizza, and smoothies.
David was busy cutting a bell pepper to put in a salad he and his group were preparing for lunch. His eyes focused on the pepper, the knife and his fingers.
“I learned how to hold the pepper firmly and keep the tips of my fingers away from the knife as I cut (the pepper),” he said, pulling a silver knife blade through the green bell pepper. “It’s really fun to make the food and then eat it!”
The program involved youth, as well as Clemson students who are seniors studying nutrition and dietetics as well as seniors interning with the Clemson Cooperative Extension System.
Logan McFall is a senior health sciences major who helped with the camp.
“This is great because we’re able to apply what we’ve been learning in the classroom to real-life situations,” McFall said. “It’s great to be able to see how what you’re doing helps others.”
Ashley Owens is a junior agricultural education major who plans to work for the Cooperative Extension Service when she graduates. Owens agreed helping with the camp helps reinforce what she’s learning in the classroom.
“This (camp) allows us to get hands-on training,” Owens said. “We are able to work with youth and learn more about what the Cooperative Extension Service does in the different communities. I am getting valuable experience by helping with this camp.”
4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. The South Carolina 4-H Youth Development Program uses a learn-by-doing approach, the involvement of caring adults, as well as knowledge and resources of Clemson University and the land-grant university system to empower youth to become healthy, productive and contributing members of society
This summer’s South Carolina Healthy Lifestyles Cooking Camp was guided by the Penn State cooking camp that Condrasky volunteered at for the past 10 years. Over the years, Condrasky said she has been working to find a way she could bring the program to South Carolina. She worked with Pam Ardern, 4-H team state leader, and the program was added to the list of activities South Carolina 4-H would offer during the summer months. With the help of Miriam Roman, a Clemson Extension affiliate and Healthy Lifestyles coordinator for South Carolina, the camp concept became a reality.
Wal-Mart provided financial support for the camps through its Youth Voice, Youth Choice initiative.
This was the first camp of this type, although numerous cooking camps have traditionally been conducted at 4-H locations in the past. According to Condrasky, plans are to continue this type of camp in the future.