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Youth Chef Advocacy Program 2012 - Orientation




Inspecting the Scallops

Prepping the Scallops

The Spinach!


The Bacon!


The Sauce!



Brookfield HS Receives Three Perkins Innovation Grants from
the Connecticut State Department of Education

Grant 1= $29,386 for the “Development of Social, Emotional and Physical Development Practices for the Student Success Plan (SSP) through Career and Technical Education (CTE).”   This grant must be completed and all money must be spent by June 30, 2014.

This is the most complex of the three grants:

  1. There will be an after school program that is co-sponsored by New Milford Hospital’s “Plow to Plate Program” called, “Youth Chef Advocates Program”   Twelve BHS high school students from grades 9-12 will be recruited, interviewed and selected to participate in this unique program that will meet 15 times between Feb. 2014 and June 2014.  
  2. There will be four field trips, in which students will go to various farms and locations where the origin of the food that they will be cooking is located: e.g., organic farm in Kent, beef cattle farmer in Bridgeport, fisherman in Stonington, CT and an urban farm in New Britain.   The students will meet with the farmers/fishermen etc and learn about what it takes to create the plant produce, animals, etc.   The next week they will cook the food from that trip and have a dinner whereby they will invite people from the community which could include parents, siblings, town officials, etc.   The students will make presentations during the meals about what they learned in that unit.  There will be a culminating experience at the end of the program. 
  3. Anne Gallagher, a professional chef and Diane M. D’Isidori, M.D., a pediatrician who is trained in nutrition will be teaching the after school program.   They have already developed the curriculum.   Lee Gregoras, the Family Consumer Science (FCS) teacher and Susan Troupe, the CTE Coordinator will be the co-advisors for the program.   Students will learn soft skills/21st Century skills needed in the workplace such as: communication, collaboration, creativity, problem solving, responsible citizenship and advocacy, and information literacy.
  4. There will be one-day training on a Saturday for the students on development of leadership skills.
  5. There are some funds for a small committee to plan the greenhouse.   It will be headed by Erin Stolfi, the Reading Specialist, whose hobby is working with plants, gardening and landscaping.  



The purpose of the five-month Plow to Plate® Youth Chef Advocacy immersion curriculum is to: 1) educate our community's youth about our current food systems, both conventional and local, and their implications in terms of personal health, environmental health, local economy and land preservation; 2) expose them to working local farms, dialogue with farmers and harvest produce; 3) learn basic culinary skills, centerd around seasonal local ingredients, at the New Milford Youth Agency's "The Maxx" kitchen/dining facility in order to create and serve meals to parents and the community; 4) advocate within the community for sustainable and local food systems that foster health, preserve farmland, support the local economy and respect the life cycle from plow to plate.


The program is taught during the Connecticut growing season, beginning in March and ending in mid-July, and is divided into six main units.  Each unit focuses on a key topic within the subject of the food system, seasonality of local product and the culinary arts.  In general, each unit is comprised of three sessions (classes) conducted over a 2-3 week period:  an educational presentation and cooking lesson, a field trip, and a community meal.  The presentation on the unit's key topic is delivered via lecture, videos, handouts and discussion.  The field trip is designed to give the students the real-life experience of what was taught in the presentation and enables them to discuss the topic with the farmer.  The community meals at the New Milford Youth Agency's kitchen and dining facility (The Maxx) allows the students to demonstrate the culinary skills they have learned and to publicly speak to the invited guests about what they have learned during the course of the program.  The past year's program was open to ten students grades 7 through 10.        


The advocacy projects that have been completed are:


Creating a 2012 calendar with photographs and information about working farms in Litchfield County and a Cookbook with a history of the advocates' experience in the Youth Chefs Advocates program as well as information on healthy eating - both on sale at the New Milford Hospital Gift Shop.

Sewing Plow to Plate pillows (made from Plow to Plate T-shirts) complete with information about the program's philosophy and selling them in New Milford Hospital's Gift Shop.

Making a video of a "Don't Fence Me In" which compares chickens raised sustainably vs conventionally.

Participating in The 2011 Earth Day Festival sponsored by the Washington Environmental Council.

A Power Point presentation on organic vs. conventional farming.



In addition to the advocacy projects, there were several high points that exemplified the impact and success of the program on the students.  About half of them wanted to continue after the program ended.  Two Youth Chef alumni assisted in some of this year's classes, inspiring the current students to not only apply what they were learning to themselves, but to bring it home to their family. The parents reported that many of the students were doing more cooking at home and encouraging them to buy more locally grown product.