CCCC's Natural Chef Kids' Camp receives TCF grant
PITTSBORO - "A good fit" is how Chef Gregory Hamm described the recent awarding of a $9,450 grant from the Triangle Community Foundation for the Summer 2013 Central Carolina Community College Natural Chef Youth Nutrition and Sustainability Camp.
"TCF's driving philosophy aligns with that of the camp," said Hamm, chair of CCCC's Hospitality and Culinary Arts Department. "With this grant, TCF is enriching bodies and minds, making it possible for the students of the camp to understand food, nutrition, and sustainability."
The Natural Chef Youth Nutrition and Sustainability Camp is a half-day summer camp that will run Monday through Thursday mornings in June and July on the CCCC Chatham County Campus. It will host 10-12 students per week.
The camp will engage economically disadvantaged students ages 8-14 in hands-on leadership and teambuilding activities using practical skills in culinary arts, nutrition and food service. The grant will allow the camp to expand its service to more students and to offer full-day activities.
"We are very appreciative of the support of Triangle Community Foundation and its recognition of the importance of providing this opportunity to students who would otherwise be unable to participate in this educational opportunity," said CCCC Chatham Provost Dr. Karen Allen.
Chef Hamm described the Natural Chef Camp as "a kid version" of the college's culinary arts curriculum programs, which specialize in sustainability and natural health and emphasize the use of locally raised natural, organic and whole foods.
"The whole camp focuses on sustainability," explained Hamm. "We cook using local ingredients and farm-to-table foods, taking nutrition to another level by using local foods and giving back to the community."
As part of their education in sustainability, camp students will visit the CCCC sustainable agriculture on-campus student farm to harvest food for cooking, giving them exposure to the seasonal heirloom vegetables growing there. They will also participate in interactive biofuels demonstrations.
Lessons in natural chef techniques will take place in the campus's state-of-the-art green kitchen. Students will also be able to use the student farm's outdoor pizza kitchen to bake the pizzas they will make using local tomatoes and unbleached flour.
"Culinary skills will give the students more self-confidence, knowledge of new and healthy foods, and the motivation to lead families to cook healthier foods in the home," Allen said.
At the end of the camp week, students will combine their newly acquired sustainable culinary skills with philanthropy and community service. They will prepare and serve a free meal to needy members of the community in partnership with The Abundance Foundation, an area nonprofit organization focused on sustainability education.
The camp not only focuses on general education about sustainable practices and natural foods, but also on the personal art of working in the kitchen.
"Students have the interactive experience of what it's like to be a chef," Hamm said.
The camp teaches practical skills, like preparing healthy meals and snacks, understanding basic cooking skills, and practicing kitchen safety. Students will learn how prepare safe/sanitary meals, create menus, and make nutritious food choices.
"Children understand nutrition but fear nutrition," said Hamm. "Showing them how to prepare foods will make a difference in keeping nutrition in their choices. We want to teach them how to make the choices they can make for themselves."
He continued, "The camp is personal to the students and generates their interest in cooking. The students are always creative, and they come back year after year because we take the time to do the fun things."
The camp received its funding through the TCF Community Grantmaking Program, an open, competitive, discretionary funding process. It involved the submission of an application and, for finalists like the Natural Chef Camp, a facility site visit from a TCF interview committee.
TCF, a nonprofit organization serving Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties since 1983, is the largest general funder of Triangle-area nonprofits. TCF uses philanthropic innovation to promote local thinking, community leadership, and collaboration among diverse environments.
For more information about Natural Chef Youth Nutrition and Sustainability Camp, CCCC Culinary Arts and the Natural Chef program, visit www.cccc.edu/culinaryarts.
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