Six new classes introduced by the Buckeye Food Alliance that teach the skills of using knives, proper sanitation, and preparing healthy meals. Courtesy of: Cameron Carothers
With its series of six cooking and food safety classes—all free—for Ohio students, the Buckeye Food Alliance aims to educate students about healthy meals and eating habits they can replicate.
According to the Student Health Center website The Buckeye Food Alliance is an equal opportunity provider operating a Food pantry of the customer’s choice . The store has been providing food to students in need since 2016 and is now expanding its services to include cooking classes – Including kitchen safety, knife use skills, and spice use – Until December 8. This is the first time it has offered cooking classes, with 15 places each.
BFA coordinator Nick Fowler said the cooking classes – which began Thursday – complement pantry jobs.
“There were times when I was working with a student who, you know, would come over and we had, like, beautiful freshly picked zucchini, and they were left behind,” Fowler said. “Because it’s like, ‘Well, if I take that, I don’t quite know what to do with it. “And so I think these classes are a way, you know, to help empower students and improve their skills in the kitchen.”
The course is led by Michael Carnahan and Cameron Carothers, Senior Culinary Instructor at James Cancer Hospital.
Carnahan said the aim of the classes is to promote healthy eating habits.
“One of our main focuses and main goals is to teach people to eat more nutrition and more plant-based diets, and to try to get people more vegetables,” Carnahan said. “So, we’re just trying to spread awareness of vitamins, nutrients, and vegetables that reduce cancer.”
Carothers, a registered dietitian, said in an email that the pantry still tries to keep the seasons as accessible as possible with an emphasis on healthy ingredients and cooking techniques.
“These classes are meant to serve students who may be food insecure,” Carothers said. “We designed the classrooms to use shared storage elements and to be flexible to meet any budget, dietary needs, or time constraints.”
Emma Lazor, a fourth-year medical dietitian and BFA treasurer, said in an email that the resources are available to students free of charge due to grants and external funding.
“The BFA is fortunate to have had so much support from organizations across the Columbus area and other people who believe in our mission of ‘No Buckeye to Hunger.’” With these donations and support, we are able to provide groceries and products Personal hygiene is free for any student at Ohio State University and we offer additional programs like cooking classes for free.”
Before class one Thursday, Carnahan said he and Carruthers led a volunteer session called Intro to the Kitchen to test course management in which students made vegetable soup and carrot cake from whole wheat.
“It was an almost perfect hour, and we actually had a short time after that,” Carnahan said. “Some of the students then stayed behind to sit down and have a meal with us—what we made—or some of the students took it home,” Carnahan said.
During Thursday’s Healthy Cooking Class, students prepared pan fajitas and pico de gallo. They also covered food safety, sanitation and basic knife skills, which teachers review at the beginning of each class, Carnahan said.
Lazur said the classes help advance the mission of the BFA and will benefit students beyond what the store can provide.
There are no places left for any semester at the time of publication. Fowler said there were no additional sessions scheduled after the sixth on December 8, but he hopes to have more available soon.
“If funding presents itself, and the opportunities are there, we would definitely love it and as long as it is something our students find valuable,” Fowler said.
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