THAYER SCHOOL -- Approximately 26 students from Thayer Elementary Schools Latchkey Program participated in an after school pilot program called "Thayer Latchkey Cooking Academy" earlier this summer. The students ranged in age from 8 to 12 years old. Class participants learned food safety and cooking methods as well as how to prepare simple, healthful foods they can make for themselves and other family members at home.
Kevin Hedden, principal of Thayer High School, coordinated the class with the assistance of Valerie Kuczek, Oregon County Extension nutrition associate, and Nancy, Reed 4-H youth development program assistant.
Alicia White, an aide at Thayer Elementary School, was also a big part of making the program a success. Funding for the program was made possible by the Thayer School District's 21st Century grant and the University of Missouri Extension.
University of Missouri Columbia developed the curriculum, "Kids in the Kitchen," to encourage youth to eat more healthful meals and snacks as a result of hands-on cooking experiences in an innovative and exciting way.
A University Extension official said, "This is the kind of active learning experience students need to help them see how the food choices they make give them the energy they need to play and grow. We appreciate the combined efforts of Thayer High School and Thayer Elementary School in helping bring about this exciting program to our students." Similar classes are being organized for the 2005/06 school year in the Thayer and Alton School Districts. Those who might be interested in enrolling their children can contact Kuczek at the University Extension Office, located in the basement of the courthouse at Alton, or by calling 417-778-7490,