by Zene Peng
Recognizing the importance of teaching nutrition at an early age, McCulloch County Hunger Coalition has been collaborating with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension to teach local elementary students (2nd-5th graders) how to make simple and nutritious meals with a crockpot. The project, titled Kids Crockin, started at the beginning of the year and has since helped 27 Brady Elementary students. Since 28% of children in McCulloch County live in poverty and 65% of children qualify for free and reduced lunches, this is a very needed and beneficial program.
Participants in the project learn how to safely use knives and identify the type of food that belongs to the component parts of MyPlate, USDA’s guide for daily nutrition. The project also encourages participants to actively help with household chores. Children’s gift bags are used as incentives to motivate children to complete and report what chores they have completed during classes. With generous financial support from Sara’s Shared Dream: Feeding McCulloch County, the 27 participants were able to take home their very own crockpot at the end of the class.
Beyond the financial support from Sara’s Shared Dream, the partnerships between Kids Crockin and the collaborating organizations have also been successful and dynamic. The project has been working with the ACE after-school program to identify future participants who will benefit the most from the program. Participants who expressed interest and received a crockpot are also added to Sara’s Shared Dream’s meal delivery list, allowing them to receive a box of free food once a month.
Moving forward, McCulloch County Hunger Coalition and Texas AM Agrilife Extension hope to continue to expand the project through increased collaboration with the school system and Sara’s Shared Dream. They hope to expand the scope of the project to the local middle school as well, helping more children in need. With more sponsorship from Sara’s Shared Dream, McCulloch County Hunger Coalition and Texas A&M Agrilife also envision having a cooking and nutrition program for parents, teaching them food safety and simple nutritious family meal recipes. 21% of adults under the age of 65 live in poverty in McCulloch County.