Education, News

KIPP Academy Lynn’s new food and nutrition program

Lynn's TJ Nguyen uses a kid friendly knife to chop greenbeans needed for vegetable curry. (Libby O'Neill)

LYNN — KIPP Academy Lynn has a new food and nutrition program for students, parents, and staff. The academy is offering free classes on how to cook healthy recipes, with a new one offered each week.

For this project, KIPP Lynn has paired up with the Food Project, a Lynn nonprofit that works to address food insecurity in the city.

The pilot program began in the fall but at the time it was just for parents, KIPP Lynn Family and Community Engagement Manager Julielys Ortiz-Leger said. The parents really enjoyed the classes, but thought their kids could benefit from them as well. When a few students joined the next round, it was a success, leading them to expand the program.

“When we did our planning for the springtime, we’re like, ‘OK, I think we should open it up to all families, so that students can also come into the space,’” Ortiz-Leger said. “We also invite our staff members, we also invite community members into the space too. So it’s not just classes for kids’ families.”

Originally they held the class at the YMCA, but since the size of the classes has grown, they are now held at KIPP Lynn.

The first session to include parents, students and staff began in April and will continue through the end of May. Some of the families are consistent in their attendance, but usually there are new families every week.

“Every time they come it’s like, ‘Oh, this is so cool,’ especially because it’s not a recipe that they’re used to cooking and so it’s a good opportunity for them to learn a new recipe,” Ortiz-Leger said. “After we cook we all share the meal together, so we sit down and we eat what we cook and just talk.”

Each week, the Food Project creates a recipe around the seasonal vegetables they have in stock. The nonprofit supplies all of the ingredients needed for that class’s recipe, and cooks it to teach the class.

When the class starts, the first thing those in attendance do is introduce themselves.

“Then we talk about the recipes and while we’re prepping, one of the Food Project members goes over the nutrition facts of that recipe,” Ortiz-Leger said.

One week, the participants made a chickpea-curry meal, and soon they will be making a cashew salad, she said.

With all of the positive feedback from the classes in the fall and now those in the spring, KIPP Lynn wants to keep the program going.

“The goal is for us to have the nutrition and cooking classes every single year for our families as of now, so we are going to be preparing for having them return in the fall time when we go back to school,” Ortiz-Leger said. “We do want this collaboration to be permanent for sure.”


More Stories From Lynn