TROY — Throughout the summer, participating Miami County families have spent each Thursday building culinary skills and cooking up tasty meals at weGrill, a special eight-week program presented by the Ohio State University Extension College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES.)
The program, which meets every Thursday at the 911 Dispatch Center from 6-8 p.m., aims to engage students ages 10 through 16 and their fathers in the art of food preparation. Currently in its second year in Miami County, the program is free for registration, thanks to grant funding.
“Last year was funded by OSU, but this year was grant-funded through the United States Department of Agriculture,” said Alisha Barton, family consumer science educator with OSU Extension. “The grant was written to take it to other counties in Ohio and potentially other states. As you can imagine, it’s pretty spendy with all of the materials and all of the food.”
Each week, families cover various topics involving food safety and education, such as learning daily servings recommended by “Myplate,” proper handling of raw meat, and proper cleaning of grills and utensils.
“We cook a full meal every week, including dessert, on the grill,” Barton exclaimed.
Examples of platters prepared at weGrill include turkey burgers, lasagna, and southwest chicken kebabs.
An important objective of the weGrill program is to orient families on how to better involve children in the process of shopping, cooking, and preparing meals.
“Unfortunately, some of those skills have been taking out of schools, and sometimes we as parents don’t think about teaching them those skills,” Barton said. “I hope that they’re leaving here and continuing this process in their own homes.”
At summer’s end, each participating family will be receive a free grill kit, which includes a George Foreman grill, an insulated bag, various seasonings, and more.
“I think what’s rewarding is to see that connection between fathers and their kids,” Barton said. “It’s nice hearing them say positive things, listen to their kids tell them about their goals or plans for the future, or how they feel about their responsibilities in their family. My daughter did this program last year with her dad, and she still has her cards. Seeing that she enjoyed having that conversation is really neat.”
“I enjoy the second part of the class, where we talk about family and relationships,” said Matt Schieltz of Troy, who is participating with daughter Catelyn. “We registered just because I thought it was a great way to spend time with Catelyn. Devoting two hours a week to something she and I could do together seemed really important.”
“I’ve learned how to use the grill, and how to prepare all the meats,” Catelyn said. “We learned from the cards that when you cook poultry, you have to cook it up to 165 degrees.”
“Part of this program is about encouraging families to eat together,” Barton said. “I hope that that’s something they’re taking away — that they’re cooking together more, that they’re incorporating more fruits and vegetables, and that they’re turning off the TV, and spending more time together while eating.”
The OSU Extension will have a presence at the 2018 Miami County Fair with the Youth Senior Cook-Off Grilling Contest, to be held at the Duke Lundgard Building on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 10 a.m.
Youth ages 14-18 are eligible to enter. Forms must be received by Friday, Aug 3. If mailing, forms must be postmarked by Wednesday, Aug 1.
For more information, visit www.miami.osu.edu, or find OSU Extension Miami County on Facebook.