Students at St. Laurentius School in Fishtown are learning about the importance of health and nutrition through the Vetri Cooking Program.
Once a week after school, students in grades 2-4 are taught various cooking and nutritional skills, including how to use kitchen utensils, how to find fresh ingredients, how to read food labels, and how to cook meals safely. Just recently, the kids learned how to make breakfast burritos as well as fresh hummus.
“Learning that when you’re 8 years old is quite valuable, especially moving towards the future so that they can keep growing those skills,” said Kelly Bell, the principal of St. Laurentius.
The program was started in 2016 as part of the Vetri Community Partnership, named after James Beard Award winner Marc Vetri. St. Laurentius has been partnered with the program since 2019, and it has been a major success throughout the school.
“They absolutely love it,” Bell said. “I see them even at lunchtime making their own little creations with whatever’s in their lunchbox. They just love the creativity aspect of it.”
During the heat of the coronavirus pandemic, students were still able to participate in the program virtually from home. Bell pointed out that being able to keep students active during that time, especially with other activities like sports taking a back seat, was vitally important.
But above all, Bell said the program serves to remind students how important proper nutrition is in everyday life.
“We do stress to our kids how our bodies feel better when we eat better,” Bell said. “So in order to eat better, we need to know what food is better for us.”