Eli Alpizar attended the chef cooking roasted fruits and vegetables under the pavilion Friday at the Charles Black Community Center. He then filled his bag with lunch necessities, including animal crackers and cheese sticks, before taking part in a nearby fishing game with school-age children of the other area.
When asked what his favorite food is, Eli smiled and said “Burgers!”
The event, Discovery Kitchen Live, shows cooking demonstrations on Friday this summer and aims to distribute meals to local children and provide educational opportunities about nutrition and cooking.
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Sponsored by South Bend Community School Corporation and Chartwells Schools Dining Service, Discovery Kitchen Live began as a periodically organized event throughout the school year. Chefs demonstrate how to make a meal for kids, who can enjoy the food afterwards.
Chartwells, a food insurance company, partners with South Bend schools to operate its summer meal programs and cafeterias throughout the school year.
In the menu
At Discovery Kitchen on Friday, chef Kenneth Acosta baked pineapple, peach and zucchini for a vegetarian-themed lunch. Kids can also choose from a large selection of classic lunch products like juice boxes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots and biscuits.
Acosta said of how the event began, “We first start thinking about educating children and the community.”
During periods of interrupted virtual learning over the past year, children were sent home with food supplies. Chartwells started broadcasting live Facebook demonstrations to show different ways families could cook their own ingredients and Discovery Kitchen was born.
The goal of the program then and now is to introduce cooking, nutrition values, and kitchen safety to children as an educational and nutritional experience, said Tanera Winters, county resident manager with Chartwells.
The demonstrations were a hit during the school year, and for that reason, “We decided to continue it only during the summer,” Winters said.
After last year, Acosta stressed the importance of bringing people together. “Everything we do, we try to bring the community together,” he said.
Feeding children in the summer months
Live Discovery Kitchen events are consistent with the Schools Corporation Daily Chart Service and Chartwells. That way, Winters said, not only do families participate in a fun summer activity, but schools get their word out about their summer meal delivery series.
The regular Summer Meal service serves free breakfast and lunch, available daily during the work week for all children under 18 years old.
The program started this year on June 7 and provides food for children throughout the summer months, when schools and therefore their cafeterias are closed.
Last Friday, Discovery Kitchen Live made homemade burger and pico de gallo at Harrison Playground.
“Our primary goal is to make sure children in the community have food,” Winters said.
Megan Larson, marketing specialist with Chartwells, said in addition to the cooking demonstration, every Discovery Kitchen Live event features games and prizes.
For example, on Friday, children could play a nutritious trivia game in which they fished for rubber ducks labeled with a food. Participants then competed to place the duck in a bucket labeled with the respective food group.
“We wanted this program to be engaging and fun for the kids,” Larson said. “And also they can get a healthy meal!”
Also at Friday’s event were representatives from the St. Joseph County Public Library and Observers.
Before competing to build a miniature catapult at the Girl Scouts table, 11-year-old Christian Dean showed off his grilled food, plus peanut butter and jelly sandwich and apple juice.
Dean and his brother were visiting their grandmother from their home in Las Vegas.
“My favorite food is chicken pot pie,” he said.
Shireley Agnaw, Dean’s grandmother, said, “They’re excited to be here; they got a library book and food.”
Upcoming events and meal service
The Discovery Kitchen live cooking demonstration series will take place in four more locations this Friday.
- July 9 at 11:30, Kennedy Splash Pad
- July 16 at 11:00 a.m., Howard Park
- July 23 at 11:00 am, Potawatomi Park
- July 30 at 11:45 am, MLK, Jr. Center
The Summer Meal service takes place at 22 total locations in the South Bend this summer. Locations include:
- MF: Potawatomi Park, Harrison Playground, MLK Jr. Center, Charles Black Center and Colfax Cultural
- M, W, F: Howard Park Housing Complex, Kennedy Splash Pad, Walker Field and Indian Springs
- M, T, Th, F: Muessel Playground
- T, Th: Southeast Park, Coquillard Park, Fremont Park, Harber Houses, Prairie Apartments and Beacon Heights
There are also roadside pick-ups offering 5-day wholesale food packages:
- Tuesdays: Harrison Elementary School Door 1, Dickinson Fine Arts Academy Door 15 and Washington High School Door 23
- Wednesdays at Monroe Elementary School door 7, door Madison Academy STEAM 11 and door 1 of Muessel Elementary School.
A full list of dates, times, locations, and addresses can be found on the SBCSC Web site at http://sb.school/district_information/departments/office_of_communications/coronavirus_information/meal_distribution
Daily nutritional menus can be found at sb.nutrislice.com.