Northwestern High School received a $5,000 grant to support a new course titled “You’ve been canned.”
The course is part of an all new Family and Consumer curriculum at Northwestern this year.
Taught by longtime NWHS math teacher Julie Schmidt, who moved into the position this year, the course aims to attract young people to culinary arts, while providing real-life meaningful activities that can be used at home.
“My grandpa cans, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to do it,”senior Kristen Kiedaisch said. “The food lasts for so long – you can have stuff from the garden year-round.”
The course is designed to help students learn the skills needed for food preservation. Through buying local produce for their projects, they also get a practical and applicable understanding of the local farming community.
The grant money was used to buy appliances and upgrade a stove and refrigerator in the family and consumer science lab.
The class, which meets for one semester, and kicked off at the start of school this year has canned dill pickles, salsa, and will do jam. They have frozen corn; made apple pies, refrigerator pickles, zucchini bread, and apple and pear butter. They did an entire deep fried week - making their own zucchini, fries, onion rings and more. They are making and freezing loaves of bread for the “Toys for Cats” food baskets to be distributed Dec. 18 and Dec. 19.
“We’re teaching real life skills and sustainability,” Schmidt said.
Students also volunteered in agricultural and art buildings at the Albion Area Fair and entered their culinary creations in the homemaking department competitions.
The school got the grant through Seed Change, an initiative that jumpstarts activities that bring local food into schools and elevates food education, and the National Farm to School Network. It was funded by a donation from the Walmart Foundation, and coordinated locally in partnership with The Food Trust.