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Step to the plate for Youth Cooking Camps

FORT KENT, Maine —  Students from kindergarten to grade 5 can beat back spring break boredom by signing up for a series of free Youth Cooking Camps.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Fort Kent Recreation and Parks Department have teamed up to offer the program which will take place over the course of three days, from April 18-20.

“Youth will learn basic food and kitchen safety skills and will learn how to turn a few basic ingredients into delicious meals for the whole family,” according to a press release.

On Tuesday, April 18 students will learn to prepare breakfast foods. The Wednesday April 19 camp will involve lunch food, and on Thursday, April 20 the students will learn to cook dinner.

“Kids always like hands-on stuff. As long as kids can get their hands into food they’re happy and they can eat it too,” said Lisa Fishman, of the Umaine Cooperative Extension.

The program will provide children in grades K through 3 with cooking activities as well as storytime and crafts. In addition to preparing meals, the older students will learn more extensive kitchen skills, including food safety and how to use equipment safely.

Fishman said she hopes to introduce the students to healthy foods and ultimately to expose them to new foods.

“There’s a world of fresh foods out there that don’t come in cardboard containers and trays that you stick in the microwave and press a button,” she said. “If they can boil water for ramen noodles they can boil water and make poached eggs.”

Children from nearby communities are welcome to join the program as there is no residency requirement.

“It’s free to everyone. I encourage them all,” said Parks and Rec Director Ann Beaulieu.

Fishman said that although the program is free, it is very important for students to pre-register so that she can determine how many groceries to buy and so that she can tailor the menu around food allergies.

A 4-H grant is funding the cooking camps, which will take place April 18-20 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Maine School Administrative District No. 27 CHIPPY Center next to the Fort Kent Community High School.

For more information or to register for the camps call the UMaine Cooperative Extension at 207-834-3905.

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