For the third consecutive year, the University of Missouri Extension Howell County joined forces with the West Plains Boys and Girls Club to offer a cooking class to interested Boys and Girls Club members. This year 12 students attended the three-week program.

The goal of the class is to teach children healthy alternatives to traditional favorites such as chicken strips and pizza. Once the children learn about healthy choices, they are then sent into the kitchen to create the food for themselves.

Since the program is offered through the University of Missouri Extension, all recipes are research based, tested on teenagers around the nation and given approval by the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri.  

“Our three focus points for the class are for the students to be open to trying new things, staying positive about healthy food choices and learning to be safe in the kitchen,” said Howell County Nutrition Specialist Stephanie Johnson. “It is always neat when kids see our healthy selections, try the food and then determine that they actually really like it.”  

The Boys and Girls Club S.P.I.N. class is based on a program entitled Cooking Matters for Teens. Johnson and Youth Development Specialist Krista Tate altered the curriculum to create a 4-H S.P.I.N. Club for the participants. Therefore, in addition to learning healthy food choices, kitchen safety and the ability to practice cooking, participants also learn 4-H principles such as self-responsibility, cooperation, communication skills and decision-making.

“This program Stephanie and I have created is a great merging of our offerings here at the University of Missouri Extension,” said Tate. “The students get hands-on cooking experience and learn about responsibility and healthy eating while having a good time. I always enjoy putting this together for the Boys and Girls Club and are grateful they are so willing to partner with us.”

The 4-H S.P.I.N. Club is a new offering though Missouri 4-H. The acronym “S.P.I.N.” is short for “special interest project club,” where five or more young people learn about a project of interest. In this instance, the group focused on cooking and healthy living.

S.P.I.N. Clubs only meet for a short period of time, with a minimum of six hours. The Boys and Girls Club cooking S.P.I.N. Club met for three weeks in July twice a week for two hours at the Howell County Extension office.  

For more information about offerings the Howell County Extension office provides including agriculture, youth services, health and nutrition and business information, contact the Howell County office at 256-2391.

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