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Junior high students learn self-sufficiency with crockpots

Self-sufficiency is critical, but sometimes hard to describe in our fast-paced, 21st century, high tech world.

But not so in Kim Sheley’s seventh- and eighth-grade Family and Consumer Science class at Pine River-Backus School. And much of the thanks go to Happy Dancing Turtle, ALCO and Gardiner’s Hardware Hank.

Last month, Lynn Hunt, Happy Dancing Turtle executive director, challenged school staff to think outside the box and consider solutions to self-sufficiency and local hunger issues. As the Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

“I thought Lynn’s idea just made good sense and, quite frankly, I’d never considered the easy, affordable, nutritious meal solutions that a crockpot and rice cooker provided,” said Cathy Bettino, Pine River-Backus superintendent. “I did know that if we needed to teach the basics of using a crockpot or rice cooker and meet nutritional guidelines in a practical way, that Kim Sheley was the person to teach us … and that junior high students were a terrific audience.”

Happy Dancing Turtle took the next step and provided coupons for students to get free crockpots and rice steamers from local stores. ALCO and Gardiner’s Hardware Hank generously provided the devices at a discount for this program.

Sheley prepared lessons based on nutrition and practicality — many using beans and rice as the base — and PR-B seventh- and eighth-graders took to the project.

Sheley presented background information about the crockpot and rice cooker and her students prepared three recipes at school.

“The students were so excited about using some different equipment in the kitchen. I encouraged all my students to be open-minded about trying dishes they are not familiar with and I have already had positive feedback from parents,” Sheley said. “These types of lessons and activities are so helpful to our students and families. Students will use these skills at home. Thank you, Happy Dancing Turtle, ALCO and Gardiner’s Hardware Hank.”

ALC students will also have the opportunity to learn to use the crockpots and rice cookers.

“We work with the University of Minnesota Extension Office and are excited to bring this practical skill to our students,” said Sue Peet, PR-B ALC director. “One big challenge for our students — probably for everyone — is planning ahead and being ready to start the crockpot before you leave for the day, whether it’s school or work. All good skills for our students to learn.”

Whether it’s learning to fish or gathering the village to raise our children, the crockpot and rice cooker project is well under way in making a difference in our eating habits and our abilities to be self-sufficient. Many thanks to all who helped get the project started and make a positive difference for PR-B students.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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