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ASU nutrition students help kids crave healthy foods

ASU nutrition student Amy Christman shows campers how to cook healthy meals.
July 10, 2013

On any given day, the Kitchen Café – ASU’s state-of -the-art learning food lab at the downtown campus – is bustling with activity as nutrition and food service management students learn to prepare, cook and serve meals.

Today is a bit different.

Most of the eager students watching today’s cooking demonstration and preparing dishes need a stool to reach their cook tops.

“Has anyone had egg drop soup before?” ASU Nutrition and Exercise Promotion student Amy Christman asked.

Seeing one hand pop up, Christman cheerfully exclaims, “Good! A lot of first timers. I promise it’ll be good.”

Christman’s students are here for Camp CRAVE, an interactive summer camp that combines food, fun and fitness. Taught by ASU nutrition students, campers in grades 4-6 learn the importance of healthy living, including how to prepare a nutritious meal by incorporating the new USDA MyPlate guidelines.

“We are excited to bring this program to the community,” said Michelle Miller, Camp CRAVE director and project coordinator for the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. “ASU students are introducing what they’re learning about health and fitness directly into our community around the downtown campus. It’s linking ASU’s academic world with the community in a very hands-on, health-focused way.”

In its inaugural year, Camp CRAVE was funded by the Virginia G. Piper Foundation and puts ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion students on the front lines of teaching children who otherwise might not be willing to try nutritious, unique foods about healthy, active lifestyles.

“A lot of the kids aren’t fond of veggies, but I’ve learned that if I can make it colorful and encourage kids to try it, they will,” Christman said.

A typical day at camp involves group exercise and learning about how to prepare a variety of foods such as a Native American dish, a healthier spaghetti sauce and, of course, egg drop soup.

As campers expertly whisk the eggs for their soup, Christman continues her instruction, encouraging the kids to add a variety of veggies to their soup.

“I want peas and carrots!”

“I want everything!”

Through the Kitchen Café experience, students discover healthier alternatives to fried or heavily breaded staples that are often part of adolescent diets. Whether it is with preparation of whole or raw foods, or understanding the alternatives for meal combinations, students come away with a new appreciation of and exposure to different foods. They learn basic kitchen preparation techniques and safety around appliances from Kitchen Café’s Chef Kent. At the end of camp, students took home a recipe book to share with their families.

The curriculum and menu planning was jointly developed by ASU and partners such as Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the downtown Phoenix YMCA. Two sessions of the two week camp were offered this summer with the hopes of adding another session or two next year, and involving more ASU students and community partners.

“This experience has not only enhanced my learning as a health professional, but enabled me to foster relationships within my community,” Christman said. “I can’t wait to see how this program continues to enhance the lives of people within the greater Phoenix area and ASU students alike. The experience was truly unforgettable.”

School of Nutrition and Health Promotion students interested in participating in Camp CRAVE can contact Michelle Miller (602) 496-2218.