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Culture and Cooking

Children in the Migrant Education Program get a taste of what WCCC is all about

This past summer, Mesa County Valley School District 51 students in the Migrant Education Program attended the "Recipe for Success" cooking course hosted by Chef Wayne Smith at Western Colorado Community College. Smith, who has more than 30 years of professional culinary experience, teamed up with the Adelante! program which seeks to help students transition from middle school to high school by engaging them in real-world trade opportunities.

Angel Torres, D51 Wellness Advocate for the Migrant Education Program West-Central Region, reached out to Smith and Grand Junction High School Spanish Teacher Yaneth Gutierrez to develop the course for students in the Migrant Education Program.

"To me, this program holds a special place in my heart as I also worked in agriculture when I was younger alongside my parents," said Torres. "As such I believe I can empathize with the families in our program to a certain level. The parents do so much for their children and I couldn't be more proud and honored to serve them."

Torres worked with Smith and Gutierrez to create a course for students that was not only fun and interactive, but prepared them for their transition to high school.

“What this course did was teach the students the universal appeal of food and cooking, and the ability of food culture to bridge people from different backgrounds,” said Smith. “The students were absolutely great to work with.”

During the course, Smith had D51 students review the proper procedures for safety and sanitization in the kitchen, then asked them to study the recipe and calculate serving sizes so they could adjust the amount as needed.

The students prepared Ensalada de Nopal and Pollo Pibil and were asked to build a timeline of actionable steps needed in order to create the dish. Once students calculated serving sizes and built their timeline, they gathered supplies and ingredients and got to work.

After following the recipe, students presented their dishes and reflected on what went well and areas they could improve. They then packaged their salads in take home containers and cleaned their stations.

Afterwards, Smith spoke to the students about important skills such as organization, time management, teamwork and responsibility, as well as how the lessons they learned in the kitchen are applicable to life in the classroom and at home.

Smith considers the course a success and hopes to continue to teach more classes in the future.


Written by Madelynn Fellet