August 26, 2005: After-school snacks are as much
a part of the school year as pencils, paper and textbooks.
But if those snacks are low in nutrition and fiber --
and high in salt, sugar and fats -- they can contribute
to the growing problem of childhood obesity.
Teaching students how to make their own healthy snacks
using fresh Florida fruits and vegetables is the focus
of a new pilot program developed by the Florida Department
of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Timed to coincide with the start of the new school
year, the “Xtreme Cuisine Cooking School”
introduced students aged 9 to 15 to the world of cooking
and good nutrition. The one- and two-day classes were
held at County Cooperative Extension Offices in Tampa,
Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee during June, July and
“Many children often prepare their own after-school
snacks when they come home each afternoon,” Florida
Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said. “We
want to help them change their snacking habits. Instead
of automatically reaching for junk foods, we want them
to explore healthy alternatives by using fresh Florida
fruit and vegetables as ingredients for fun and delicious
Under the guidance of Executive Chef Travis Summers,
students learned to prepare whole-wheat pizzas, fruit
parfaits and other nutritious and tasty treats using
Summers’ original recipes. They also learned how
Florida fruit and vegetables used in these recipes provide
vitamins and minerals that can help prevent heart disease
and other obesity-related illnesses. In addition, students
learned the dangers caused by excessive amounts of salt,
sugar and fats in their diet, and how fiber could eliminate
their desire for high-calorie, low-nutrition snack foods.
At the end of each session, students learned how many
calories are needed for their age and gender, the vitamin
and mineral content of many Florida fruit and vegetables,
and how to read a food nutrition label. They also received
recipe and nutritional brochures as well as an “Xtreme
Cuisine” certificate attesting to their skill
in the preparation of healthy snacks.
“The nutritional information provided at these
seminars will help students make healthy eating choices
as they become adults,” Bronson said. “Learning
the importance of good nutrition at a young age is the
key to a healthy future.”
Classes were offered in cooperation with Family and
Consumer Science offices within the University of Florida
Extension and 4-H Youth Development Programs and were
provided free of charge.
Teachers, parents and children are encouraged to visit
for more information about nutrition and fresh Florida
fruits and vegetables.