CAMDEN – On November 7, the Camden Rockport Middle School sixth grade had a buffet in the cafeteria, a culmination of a project that combined language arts with family and consumer science. The class also invited the Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry to speak about its backpack program and how food shortages affect school age children.
The class had also published a cookbook of recipes and stories titled Connecting Over Food, and has been posted online.
There is no charge to download the iBook, but it is the hopes of students and faculty that it will raise awareness for the AIO Food Pantry.
Susan Burwell, cultural arts and family and consumer science instructor at CRMS, explained how the idea originated.
“Last year in sixth grade we had an essential question,” she said. “Who are you and what are you made of? In Family Consumer Science, we started to look at how important food is in our lives; not only how it makes us healthy, but stories about food traditions in our families and our lives.”
Burwell said last year and this year students wrote stories about a special food in their lives and how they were connected to that food.
“This year we’re producing an iPad cookbook were everyone can go in and access everyone’s story and recipe,” she said. “And we are having a grade level potluck. Kids made the food at home to bring in and enjoy,”
Jessie Odgren teaches sixth grade language arts. She said the cookbook is also about interesting stories connected to the recipes.
“We had the kids write stories connected to the recipes they submitted,” she said. “Most of the stories are connected to the kids somehow either through their families or traditions they have at home and so they wrote a desciptive story about their recipe.”
Odgren said the recipes do not cater to a particular diet.
“Their recipes were exclusively their choice,” she said. “Some kids are vegetarian and gluten-free so it made sense that their recipe center on that. The recipes and the stories will be available on the iPad cookbook.”
Odgren said it was a double win for the kids. They got to write a story and bring in food.
“Overall I think the kids were really excited to share their traditions and special recipe,” she said. “Many had been passed down to them, so to write a story about it and then actually bring the food in. It was really nice for them.”
CRMS principal Jaime Stone was pleased with how the project turned out.
“I think the students are really proud about the recipes they’ve chosen,” she said. “A lot of them have connections to their family heritage. The kids are just joyful, some of them are trying new things and foods and some we had to coerce into trying new things, but the joy and pride they feel is abundant and it makes me feel great.”
Stone said everyone worked hard and pulled together to make this happen.
“The teachers worked very hard to pull this together,” she said. “We had lots of parent volunteers, which is a nice community building event for them. One of our objectives of project based learning is having an authentic event at the end. It’s a real audience and they get to be an audience for each other.”