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Audrey and Luke Allen, Logan County 4-H’ers, enjoy participating together in Food, Fun, 4-H. (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

Food, fun, 4-H program gets kids in the kitchen

Friday, March 19, 2021

A program intended to keep 4-H’ers connected while they were forced to stay socially distant during the COVID-19 pandemic was so successful it’s making a return this year.

Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development’s Food, Fun, 4-H program, operating in 55 classrooms statewide from May through August, also will broaden its perspective with an emphasis on international cuisine.

Cathy Allen, 4-H curriculum coordinator with Oklahoma State University Extension, said the organization’s original target goal was 100 members, but it ended up much larger with 727 participant families.

“We were so excited to have so many families participate in the inaugural program. During the time in which families were sheltering in place, our club members and other participants were engaged in fun, positive youth development,” Allen said. “Our program engaged youth from third-graders through high school seniors with monthly packets containing themed recipes, educational skills lessons, a family physical activity and dinner conversation starters, as well as fair entry ideas.”

In addition to promoting kitchen and cooking skills, Food, Fun, 4-H also teaches youth how to be smart consumers through planning, time management and budgeting.

Audrey Allen, a member of the South Logan County 4-H Club, said she likes cooking, especially with her friends.

“I really liked trying the different foods we made. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment,” said Audrey, who has been cooking since she joined 4-H several years ago.

Oklahoma 4-H families who register for the program will receive a kitchen utensil kit related to that month’s recipes, along with other informational material. Youth must prepare at least two of the recipes in the packet and complete a post-lesson report. Participants also are asked to submit two photos – one of them preparing the dish and another of the family unit sharing the meal. This qualifies them to receive the next month’s utensil kit.

Allen said there have been many requests from Extension educators in other states and the program is open to anyone. Families who are not involved in 4-H are still eligible to participate and receive the monthly recipes, educational materials and family activities via email, but are not eligible for the kitchen utensil kit.

“One thing we learned through participants’ feedback was they shared more meals together as a family. Food, Fun, 4-H brought families together over the dinner table where they were more actively involved in sharing conversation,” Allen said.

This summer’s program will be a great way for participants to learn more about the world. The packets will contain information about a particular region. It’s a great way to continue the educational process over the summer.

4-H programming has focused on learning by doing for more than a century. Food, Fun, 4-H is just another way to honor the roots of the world’s largest youth development program.

Fun, Food, 4-H has been highlighted by the National 4-H Council and is sponsored by a Walmart Healthy Habits Grant.

For more information about Food, Fun, 4-H, or to enroll in the summer program, contact Allen at 405-744-8892 or cathy.allen@okstate.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Trisha Gedon | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-3625 | trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

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