Cooking Up a Love for Healthy Eating with the NJ Healthy Kids Initiative

Involving children in the cooking process helps introduce them to a variety of foods, broadens their palates, and increases the likelihood that they will continue to try new types of fruits, vegetables, and cuisines in the future.

The Kids Cook Monday (TKCM), a concept of the Monday Campaigns, collaborated with the New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative (NJHKI) to promote their aligned goals of promoting culinary literacy through getting kids involved in cooking with their families.

TKCM and NJHKI worked together to collectively implement a feasibility study at the Culture of Health Academy at NJ Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health, a lab preschool at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The study included a cooking lesson presented as part of the regular school curriculum. Preschool-age students, along with the help of student ambassadors (nutrition students from Rutgers) prepared TKCM Caprese Pasta recipe using  quinoa pasta.

During the program, TKCM provided a variety of resources, including a Family Dinner Date recipe featured that Monday. Cooking tools and the recipe of the day were supplied to the students and his or her family so that the dish could be recreated that night or later during the week.

After the program, parents of participating preschool students were surveyed, with approximately 50% saying that they had prepared the TKCM recipe at home, a higher percentage than any other recipe students had prepared in class.

The New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative continues to incorporate TKCM when implementing cooking programs throughout school districts in New Jersey.