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Head Start Serves Up Education and Engagement in Food Demos

Head Start student and Family Advocate mix up waffle batter together at the most recent Food Demo.

Over the last year, Head Start has been on a mission to expand their Food Program and offer more engagement opportunities called Growing Together. These efforts have resulted in offering Head Start Food Demos that are a free, easy way for Head Start families to learn together and integrate healthy meals at home!

The Food Demos are often offered on-site in Head Start classrooms with an open invite for parents to attend with their littles. The Food Demos are cooking classes for kids and parents to participate in together where they can have fun, learn new skills, and participate in their children’s classroom environment. These events are also a great opportunity for parents to engage with other parents and get to know the Head Start teachers. Kelley Kirschten, ATCAA Head Start Family Engagement Manager, explains, “The biggest benefit [of Growing Together] is relationship building, learning together and meeting other Head Start families."

Tyler Stump, Program Assistant, and Kelley Kirschten, Family Engagement Manager, chat with parents at the Food Demo.

From homemade pesto and pasta to vegan garbanzo bean soup, they’re serving up nutritious recipes that are affordable. With the cost of groceries on the rise, the program is prioritizing recipes that are both affordable and easy enough to make for any skill level. The Food Demos teach about how eating nutritiously can be delicious and fun! Kids enjoy the cooking too, with one boy exclaiming, “This is a good waffle, mom!” at the most recent Food Demo.

Head Start student enjoying his savory parmesan waffle, exclaiming "This is a good waffle, mom!"

“I think when you help make a meal, whether you’re a kid or a parent, just having a hands-on experience with food and cooking, it makes you more connected to your food,” says Tyler Stump, who led the most recent Head Start Food Demo. Tyler enjoys teaching the Food Demos, saying, “I like showing new ways to cook and engaging with our families… A lot of our families see each other when they pick up and drop off. So, if we can get parents stay for an event it helps create a community within the school.

Tyler Stump demonstrating how to make vegan garbanzo bean soup at Soulsbyville Elementary School.

Head Start’s family engagement events took a bit of hiatus due to the pandemic. Previously titled “You and Me” events, Head Start recently revitalized the events by introducing new types of activities and renaming them “Growing Together." Over the last year, the new Growing Together events have been a hit! Encouraging connection, engagement, and education in one, the Head Start Growing Together events and Food Demos are an amazing addition to the program that is bringing joy into each Head Start center.

While the '23-'24 school year is coming to an end, there are still a couple of Growing Together events scheduled for Head Start families. The Head Start team is already dreaming up new, fun events for next school year! To learn more, reach out to Kelley Kirschten by emailing


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