PITTSBURG, Kan. — Kids in Pittsburg are learning about proper nutrition and how to cook.

“I’m super excited. I’ve actually gone to a different cooking camp, and I really like it. So I’m looking forward to this one,” said Gabe Lance, Participant.

This is the Junior Chefs Cooking Camp at the Pittsburg Public Library.

The free program is for children ages 8 through 13, and it’s a weekly two-hour session for five weeks, every Wednesday from June 7th through July 5th.

The camp is fully funded by a grant and hosted by K-State Research and Extension, as well as the EF-NEP and SNAP-Ed programs.

Kansas SNAP-Ed supports low-income Kansans by offering dual-focus camps on nutrition education and food preparation.

“We’re having this camp just to get kids in the habit of really knowing how to cook and what ingredients to be able to use and which ingredients would be better to use. Since we are still like SNAP-Ed and EFNEP on the ground, we’re still making sure that they are also learning like the healthier options of what to be able to use in their recipes,” said Cristina Rueda, EFNEP, Nutrition Assistant.

They’re learning how to properly use knives, working on their mixing and measuring skills, and how to properly wash their hands.

“It’s important that they get these skills so they’re able to cook healthy meals and be sustainable on their own when they do get to the stage when they’re on their own. But obviously, as kids, they’re going to help cook with their parents. But maybe they’ll tell their parents we should have whole grain flour or we should have low-fat milk and we should make the healthier choices,” said Stefanie Smirl, SNAP-ED Nutritional Educator.

This is a pilot program available only in three districts in the state.

The class could potentially become an annual event for the entire state of Kansas.

“It would definitely benefit more children. We would be able to reach a lot more kids. This summer we’re going to reach roughly 80 kids, but we could potentially reach up to hundreds of kids to be able to let them all have the same experiences and get them to be able to learn the cooking skills like the ones this year are,” said Smirl.