South Lakes Food Pantry Branches Out with Healthy Eating Workshops

School News
May 16, 2019

When South Lakes High School’s PTSA established a Food Pantry in 2017, its goal was to help students avoid hunger by distributing nonperishable food items and toiletries to students in need.  With support from the teachers and staff, the community, local churches and organizations, and farmer’s market vendors, the pantry has been a success and is still going strong more than two years later.  This year, thanks to a Delta Dream Grant from the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, healthy eating workshops were provided to students by community organizations.

Nutritionist Kristen McGill of Giant Food held a recent cooking demonstration and question and answer session for students during a healthy eating workshop.  While demonstrating how to make vegetarian chili, she pointed out nutrient-dense foods that are full of vitamins and minerals that help people stay healthy, such as beans, peanut butter, canned fish or meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. 

With help from culinary student Abby who demonstrated cutting techniques, McGill talked about basic knife skills including good form, offered the students a tip on how to cut onions without tearing up (peel it first or chop off the top and remove the skin), explained the easiest way to cut a green pepper (chop off the top, cut around the seeds and pull them out), and the best way to cook fast-cooking rice. 

McGill also explained that colorful foods are important because the more color in food, the more nutrients they provide.  She talked about healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, and nuts) and encouraged the students to follow the USDA’s My Plate guidelines to fill half a dinner plate with produce, one-quarter of a plate with protein, and one-quarter of a plate with whole grains.  

Students attending the workshop got a taste of the finished product and left the workshop with goodie bags filled with information about healthy eating on a budget, coupons, a wooden spoon, fresh avocados, and a copy of the recipe used by McGill.

South Lakes High’s Food Pantry was developed to help close the hunger and nutrition gap for the 30 percent of students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.  The Food Pantry is also open to South Lakes Pyramid students and their families.

The video below gives viewers the opportunity to experience one of the workshops as a participant.