Chester Eastside has a lovely spread, thanks to a group of After-School students – News from Chester Eastside

MyDaughtersKitchenTurkey mushroom tacos with avocado filling. Rhubarb & strawberry crisp. Menu
items at an upscale restaurant? No, actually a celebratory meal at Chester Eastside,
Inc., cooked by none other than a group of After-School students.

It was on a recent evening that a couple of Board members, along with
Executive Director Rev. Zuline Wilkinson and a number of guests, enjoyed these
delicacies, all prepared and served by the students under the watchful eye of Sallie
Anderson, a volunteer from My Daughter’s Kitchen.

For the past eight weeks she’s been teaching a group of sixth and seventh
graders the finer points of cooking appetizing but simple and affordable dishes –
along with some lessons in healthy eating habits. The recipes have included things
like Moroccan chicken couscous and minestrone and banana applesauce cake.

My Daughter’s Kitchen was the brainchild of Philadelphia Inquirer Food

Editor Maureen Fitzgerald a number of years ago and is now operated in
collaboration with Vetri Community Partnership. Its mission is simple: to teach
young people to cook healthy, affordable meals from scratch. The 8-week program
takes students from groceries in the bag to a family-style dinner on the table. And it
works. Says mentor Sallie Anderson, “While it has been wonderful to see the
kids become enthusiastic chefs, what has been even more rewarding is to see how
they have developed a sense of teamwork and cooperation among themselves. I
hope they will carry these skills with them when they leave the kitchen.”

She adds, “Putting a healthy meal together requires lots of preparation,
particularly chopping of vegetables. But by the end of the eight weeks, my junior
chefs had become quite skilled at this and eager to help. The only job that everyone
was reluctant to take on was peeling and chopping onions, but by taking turns at
this, they got it done.”

So far it’s been girls benefiting from the Chester program. At first the boys
weren’t interested. But now, having seen the results, they want in, too. So they’ll
have their chance in the next round of My Daughter’s Kitchen classes at Chester
Eastside, slated for the fall.

This is only one of the many ways Chester Eastside introduces young people
to new and exciting experiences in the wider world and gives them a new sense of
mastery.

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By timmreardon