The Pizza Challenge
“I want to give you a challenge, a pizza challenge to try one new topping on your pizza. Will you accept this challenge?” asked Rebecca Marson, Program Assistant with Oregon State University’s (OSU) SNAP-Ed program. For the last three summers, OSU Extension’s Food Hero program has come to Arbor Glen, one of Human Solutions properties, to teach elementary school children how to cook nutritious meals.
One summer Tuesday, nine kids raced up the stairs to accept her challenge. The ingredients they chose from included foods from all the MyPlate food groups: green peppers, red onions, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni. In place of dough, they placed their toppings on half of an English Muffin, which the My personal pizza recipe from Food Hero suggests (it’s do-able at home!).
Like true chefs, the kids sampled the ingredients before designing their pizza. Of course not every child was eager to experiment with new flavors! When asked about her favorite toppings, Harmony answered “olives and bacon.” She piled olives on top of her pizza until they were falling off.
There is an incredible sense of community among these kids; they are eager to help each other. Julian, one of the youngest, asked for help crafting his pizza, until he saw his friend JuJu making one all by himself. Wanting to be like his friend, Julian tried to make his own but when he struggled a bit, MaKaylah, one of the oldest, stepped in to help him.
While impatiently waiting for their food to cook, the kids colored pictures of pizzas. “This pizza has a lot of colors,” Tristan said, as he was eager to show off his artwork. Food Hero recipes incorporate colorful ingredients, so they’re not just nutritious but appealing to kids, too.
All Food Hero recipes meet rigorous recipe criteria, including:
- Appropriate for a busy household.
- Utilize limited number of ingredients.
- Lots of fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
- Are low cost.
- Nutritious (of course!)
Pizza is certified kid-friendly, but some of the program’s recipes have really expanded beyond stereotypical kid food. Dished like Asian Beef and noodles, Mushroom Bulgur pilaf and Banana pancakes. The kids LOVED the pancakes. “We cut up the bananas,” Shaelynn recalled her favorite part of making the pancakes. When asked about what other tools she used, she shouted with joy “THE SMASHER!!”
OSU’s Rebecca asked the kids to raise their hands if they thought they could make the pizzas at home, and all arms shot up with smiling faces. Kids are encouraged to take recipes with them as they leave. Harmony grabbed an extra pizza coloring page for her brother, who is too young for the class, and decided her mom also needed one.
We are grateful that OSU’s Extension Program partners with Human Solutions’ Resident Services team to provide such fun, hands-on programming for the community. They work hard to bring opportunities like this for residents to master new skills.