CHOP (Cooking-up Healthy Options and Portions) is an after-school cooking program designed to teach middle school students to prepare healthy meals and feel more confident in the kitchen. Through this program we strive to enable students to translate the information they learn into tangible skills that can make healthy eating a habit.
Ochsner’s Community Outreach staff has revised and created recipes that show students they can still eat their favorite foods and be healthy at the same time, just by making a few small changes. CHOP acts as a compliment to the LSU AgCenter’s Smart Choices nutrition program and is offered to students who have already participated in that program. Each week, students spend 90 minutes preparing a new healthy recipe.
Students learn basic cooking techniques:
- Knife skills and safety
- Food safety
- Proper measuring and calculations
- Meal planning
- Boiling, simmering, sautéing, and baking
Students also learn useful nutrition information:
- The importance of consuming enough fruits and vegetables
- How to lower intakes of fat, sugar, and sodium
- Proper portion control
CHOP holds its after-school programs at J.D. Meisler Middle School in Metairie and Theodore Roosevelt Middle School in Kenner with help from ProStart students at Grace King High School and Bonnabel High School. Community Outreach is currently planning ways to expand the program's reach to more schools and more students in the coming months.
After year one of the CHOP program, an evaluation was done with students to assess how many changes they had taken to heart and how much they learned from the course.
- 20% more students reported reading nutrition facts labels
- 15% more students reported eating breakfast in the morning
- 10% fewer students reported drinking sodas (11% more students reported drinking no sodas at all)
- 14% more students reported eating no fast food
- 29% more students correctly answered that 20 seconds is the minimum length of time one should wash their hands
- 10% more students reported always washing their hands before eating
- 38% more students correctly defined a calorie
- 36% more students correctly identified Calcium as the mineral found in dairy products
- Choose My Plate - The USDA's new nutritional guidelines (replaced the Food Pyramid)
- Recipe Finder - A database of recipes from nutrition and health professoinals