Feb. 10, 2020 By Megan McGibney
A new culinary arts program was launched at a Greenpoint elementary school earlier this month that aims to teach students how to cook.
The program is being taught to all 600 students at PS 31 Samuel F. DuPont, from Kindergarten through 5th grade, at its 75 Meserole Avenue location. There will be dedicated cooking lessons, with other school subjects incorporating food-related topics into their coursework.
“It starts here,” said principal Mary Scarlato, referring to the brightly lit kitchen/cafe, which was a former computer classroom where the cooking lessons will now take place. “We’re building up a passion, and it helps with life skills.”
The idea of bringing the program to PS 31 started in 2014, when the school received a capital funding grant from Borough President Eric Adams to revamp the classroom into a kitchen/café. Dubbed Café DuPont, the room is designed with a 1950s look with red counter chairs, and a black and white tiled floor.
The school then received a Two Trees’ Neighborhood School Grant, which is funding the cooking supplies for the children.
Now with the official launch last week, PS 31’s staff is developing a school-wide curriculum to not only teach its students about making food dishes, but to also use food as a way of educating children about life and the world around them. This means blending their science, math and geography lessons with what they learn at Café DuPont.
“We have theme units per grade,” said Sheri Sankner, who started PS 31’s school garden, called The Garden of Happiness. “For Kindergartners, we have Eat the Rainbow where they’ll learn shapes and colors. First graders will learn the parts of plants, such as which part they eat and don’t.”
The upper grades will focus on learning about the topographies and geographies of where vegetables and fruits are grown. Some food items are grown in other countries—providing students an insight into other cultures. Those students will then cook those cultural dishes at the Café.
“That’s how we connect,” explained Maria Puma, the library teacher. “Who we are, what we eat.”
There will also be a focus on nutrition, eating clean, and what is a balanced diet.
When it comes to math, students will learn how multiplication or division can even be used to help them double or triple ingredients for a recipe, or dividing ingredients needed for making tacos.
“They’ll learn life skills to take with them,” Puma said. “They’ll also learn problem solving and critical thinking skills. They’ll be more confident as they go out into the world.”
The first culinary classes will start no later than March 1. There are plans for a DuPont Cookbook and for the children to create dishes for future school potlucks.