Bennington Tutorial Center spreads the word about eating healthy

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BENNINGTON >> Yesterday, the Bennington Tutorial Center celebrated Food Revolution Day, an international event highlighting the importance of food education, by cooking recipes from the center's newly crafted cookbook, "Garden Candy Basics: Getting you more into vegetables by getting more vegetables into you!"

Food Revolution Day 2015 was started by English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, whose mission is to bring healthy food education to school curriculums around the world in a fun and engaging manner. One of his goals is to obtain one million signatures for a petition that he hopes will influence the world's most powerful governments to recognize the need for food education.

About 15 students of the Bennington Tutorial Center squeezed into the kitchen of St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Food Revolution Day to prepare a small feast and learn some ways in which they can incorporate vegetables into their everyday meals. Center education manager Elaine Demasi led the cooking frenzy in which students made a salad with peanut sauce and "Zippy Tomato Moonshine," a recipe from the new e-book published by the center called "Garden Candy Basics."

"You can do the food processing piece. Do you know how to use one of those?" Demasi could be heard saying as her students paced throughout the kitchen grabbing tomatoes and other vegetables needed to make sauce for their "Moonshine" pasta dish. "But there's no alcohol," she added reassuringly.

Christine Glade, whose husband Jack Glade is the director of The Tutorial Center, coauthored and designed the book with her colleague Laura Amicucci after learning that students in the center's Youth Agriculture Project knew little about how to prepare vegetables for meals.

"We're trying to help all of our students at The Tutorial Center increase their own familiarity using vegetables at home," Glade said.

According to Glade, some students and parents of students from the tutorial center are "vegetable resistant," in that they do not use vegetables for lack of knowing how to cook with them. Her book intends to help these families as well as those with tight budgets. Glade is collaborating with the Vermont Foodbank and Hunger Free Vermont in order to provide wider access to "Garden Candy Basics," which sells for $2.99 on Amazon and iTunes.

After cooking the "Zippy Tomato Moonshine" and preparing salad, the students sat in the corner of a room where the church is storing items for a May 16th tag sale. At dining tables with glossy blue plates over pink tablecloths and flowers in glass vases, they had a small feast, which some of them would go on to critique in their classes later that day.

A portion of the tutorial center's students currently attend Mount Anthony Union High School and supplement their daily classes with the ones they take at the center. Others are part of the center's adult education program, in which upon completing the program, they will receive a high school diploma from MAU.

"There are so many misconceptions about what happens at the Tutorial Center," Demasi said, noting that this year's MAU salutatorian is one many students taking supplemental classes there.

Jeremy Andrews, 17, is an adult education student at the center who previously took food education courses at the Southwestern Vermont Career Development Center in both Bennington and Windsor. He likes to make sure that vegetables are on his meal plates at home.

"I cook at home all the time and I want to open my own restaurant in the future," Andrews said. He plans to eventually attend the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier.

Jacob Colon can be reached at jcolon@benningtonbanner.com or (802) 447-7567 ext 118.


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