HENDERSON — Sweet potatoes aren’t just for casseroles, as a group of children learned at Perry Memorial Library on Tuesday.
Two associates with the Working on Wellness Coalition led a class all about sweet potatoes and how to safely prepare them for cooking any kind of delicious dish.
Danielle Lodge, a MedServe fellow, prepared sweet potato salsa, a sweet and savory condiment consisting of the aforementioned vegetable diced and roasted in the oven, chilled with raw onion and bell pepper tossed in oil and lime juice. Each student who tried the unique recipe received a sticker.
Lodge was accompanied by Shaq Davis, a public health educator with Granville-Vance Public Health. He led activities for the class.
Students acted out the life cycle of a sweet potato, each curling up into a ball to represent the seed and growing into a flourishing plant, standing tall with their arms outstretched.
Perry Memorial’s Assistant Director Christy Bondy said that each class will feature small elements of physical activity “to remind kids to move their bodies, be good to their bodies.”
“I hope that our attendees learn new ways to create healthy recipes and healthy ways to have delicious snacks and meals,” Bondy said. “I want everyone to live their best life.”
Lodge and Davis work with the WOW Coalition to implement the What’s Growing On Harvest Box Program in Granville County schools. Each month, the program provides a lesson on one local produce item and a related snack for students to sample. Sweet potato salsa is this month’s snack. Tuesday was, appropriately, National Cook a Sweet Potato Day.
The WOW Coalition is one of 10 coalitions funded through the Duke Endowment. The coalition’s goal is to improve the overall health of children in Granville and Vance counties by targeting childhood obesity, malnutrition and physical inactivity.
For their lesson, Davis and Lodge utilized the library’s Charlie Cart, a mobile kitchen which includes a sink, conduction oven, induction cooktop and more than 170 pieces of kitchen equipment.
“It is like a one-stop shop for all things meal prep,” Lodge said. “It has so many tools and kitchen supplies so we can make anything from our sweet potato salsa to fruit smoothies. I also think it helped show the kids how you could take the raw produce and make it something tasty to eat.”
The library’s cart is one of 260 across the country and was provided with funding from Triangle North Healthcare Foundation. The Charlie Cart program was founded in 2015 with the goal to give kids a comprehensive food education program.
Tuesday’s event is part of a series of classes dubbed “Vibrant Vitals in Vance.” Additional classes will be held each Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Perry Memorial Library’s Farm Bureau Meeting Room. Questions should be directed to Assistant Director Christy Bondy 252-438-3316, ext. 234.
“I hope that we can expand on the programs,” Bondy said, “to be able to offer a variety of series around the year, for kids all the way up to seniors.”
The program is in partnership with N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Granville-Vance Public Health’s Working on Wellness and Coordinated Approach to Child Health.