Eight-year-old Kelso Gaines proudly examined the plate of food before him. Then he ate every last bite of the freshly made spaghetti and meatballs—even though it was barely 9 a.m. – and declared he had never tasted a better red sauce than the one he had just made with garlic, basil and tomatoes
“It was the best because I was the chef and my classmates were too,” said Gaines, a second grader at the Barack Obama Charter School in South Los Angeles. “This tastes so good because of all the good stuff we put in it.”
That is exactly the kind of attitude that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver hopes to impart with his Big Rig Teaching Kitchen, a mobile kitchen with seven cooking stations that has traveled throughout California on a mission to teach children and their families how to prepare healthy, homemade meals. Oliver knows that if kids make it, they are more likely to eat it.
The Big Rig will be setting up shop at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center until April 25, taking in local school children, families, groups and anyone else interested in learning the basics of good cooking. Although Oliver is not on hand to cook, he was there in spirit.
The Big Rig Teaching Kitchen, which launched in South Los Angeles three years ago, will roll into other communities with the message that healthy eating is easy fun and empowering.
“When children make their own food, something magical happens,” said Scott Bottemer, operations manager for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. “They eat what they prepare. Our mantra is educate, empower and inspire.”
Recent reports suggest that this generation of children will be the first in the history of the U.S. to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents—if eating habits and lifestyle choices don’t change.
The Big Rig’s recent stop at the new Outpatient Center, set to open this spring, was not by accident. As part of its mission, the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital and Outpatient Center will form part of a wellness campus that emphasizes prevention and healthy lifestyles.
As he stirred some eggs and bread crumbs into the ground beef for the meatballs, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told the crowd of students that healthy eating would keep them out of the hospital.
“Eating well keeps you feeling better,” he said. “Now when you go home, you can show your families how to cook.”
Indeed, stirring spoon in hand, seven-year-old Akeyla Tate wiggled with anticipation at the thought of the delectable spaghetti sauce and freshly made meatball recipe she would be showing off to her family.
“Now, I get to go home and say to my mom, “Can I fix something for you?” smiled Tate.
To sign up for classes please visit: http://bit.ly/1qri54k