Chicago police officers are cooking with children in a new program designed to improve community relationships.
The youth-led program, “Healthy Plates with Police,” is bringing officers and children together to learn about nutrition and preparing healthy meals.
“We need to be able to eat more healthy meals,” Officer Delbert Howell said. “We need to know how to prepare more healthy meals more importantly and have more fun as we are doing it.”
The K–12-based cooking program was founded in 2018 by the nonprofit Healthy Place. It is held at Kennedy-King College’s culinary school, which also provides the food.
“It’s for K–12, and we are able to teach healthy meals and how to make meals they can buy in their own grocery stores in their own neighborhood,” Howell explains.
Since its inception, more than 1,000 young people across the city have participated in the program.
According to Healthy Place’s website, it’s mission is “to provide under privileged youth education and training for living a healthy lifestyle while earning a honest living by way of agriculture.”
Howell said the program is able “to help the police, community, youth and parents engage all at the same time.”
“When you’re breaking bread with people, you’re engaging, having a good time. That’s one of the reasons we started Healthy Plates With Police.”
Recently, the program had its first meeting since the pandemic broke out. More than a dozen family and youth members participated.
“We started this because we also wanted to give our youth an ability to have a vocational skill,” Howell added. “And we want to expand other vocational programs … we started with culinary. This is a skill they can take for the rest of their lives.”
The Harmon family said the experience was “awesome.”
“The head chef starts with a demo. And we follow him from there,” Jaime Harmon said. “It comes fully stocked with aprons and chef hats, and it’s a great experience.”