Cooking up some fun

"We are trying to teach them that whenever possible use local product," said Williams. "Being that we are at the beginning of our growing season, we are kind of limited, but we will talk to them that we have a lot of opportunities like the Schenectady Greenmarket."

With opportunities to buy local year round in the community, the prices shouldn't deter consumers, said Williams, because local produce isn't always too costly, as some might believe.

"Just because it is fresh does not often mean it is more expensive," said Williams. "We have to educate our students to that also."

Recipes for some of the foods were provided to students, along with some alternative meal options students and parents might not have thought to make at home.

Chef Gerard Moser of the college's quantitative food class and Chef Robert Payne, an American Culinary Federation chef and child team director, also took part in the event.

Schenectady Board of Education member Gary Farkas stopped by to check out how the district's Smart Scholars were doing in the program. Students earn college credits while in the program, which Farkas said could lead to their being the first in their families to earn college credits. This is the first year of the program, and eventually it will encompass all four high school grades.

The Smart Scholars gives an opportunity to students who might not otherwise have one, said Farkas. "We are making college part of their conversation that there is something after high school."

Introducing students to college and letting them get a feel for what a college experience is like is important to helping them reach graduation and have something to strive for beyond high school, he said.

"When they go to a college campus, it is an exciting place to be, so introducing them earlier makes them want to be a part of that even if they don't come here, at least it opens up the door for them to go someplace," said Farkas.

The Junior League had partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to teach healthy nutrition, said Deneen Palmateer, present of the local Junior League. The new approach with the college and ninth-graders is a "top down" approach.

"This year we thought we would do something different to educate the children on careers in nutrition and taking it to the next level," said Palmateer. "Instead of just doing young children, we are doing those in ninth grade and if we could teach them to take this on as a career it is a great field to get into.""

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