4-H Farm to Fork Camp & the Dinah Gore 4-H Healthy Food Challenge
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4-H Farm to Fork Camp
The 4-H Farm to Fork Camp is an educational cooking program that teaches youth about locally grown foods and where their food comes from. During the week-long camp, students tour a local farm to learn about how crops are grown and how poultry and livestock are raised. After the farm tour, students return to the kitchen and learn how to prepare healthy dishes using the ingredients from the farm. Students also gain culinary and nutrition skills, such as proper knife and food safety, by participating in a cooking competition that happens at the end of the week. In the competition, they have 40 minutes to prepare a dish using a mystery basket of ingredients, with many of these ingredients being found on local farms. 91% of parents with children that participated in the camp reported that their children are utilizing healthy recipes and eating more fruits and vegetables.
In 2018, the Farm to Fork program started in a few counties in North Carolina but has since expanded. Due to the efforts of the Farm to Fork Camps committee and the state Local Foods Program Team, the program has grown into a statewide program. The program team has trained nearly 200 volunteers and agents across the state at multiple statewide conferences and has created training and program implementation resources and tools for agents and volunteers. Approximately 75 counties throughout North Carolina now offer similar programming. A programming tool that has assisted in reaching a larger audience is the cooking kit. The cooking kits include everything a volunteer or agent needs to host a Farm to Fork Camp for up to 20 students in their county. There are five kits with one housed in each of the districts across the state. Agents can rent these kits for free. More information on the kits is available online.
During the pandemic, the Farm to Fork Camps Committee devised creative ways to reach 4-H members and continue the Farm to Fork Camp virtually. 47 4-H members attended a Farm to Fork Camp across the state. Students were able to take virtual tours of farms and cook along with recipes prepared by Extension agents. The program videos are now available on the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Harnett County YouTube Channel.
Dinah Gore 4-H Healthy Food Challenge
The Dinah Gore 4-H Healthy Food Challenge is a statewide competition that gives 4-H youth the opportunity to utilize the skills they have learned in the Farm to Fork Camps at the county level. The competition challenges an individual or team of two 4-H members to create a dish using a predetermined set of ingredients. Harnett County’s Greg Huneycutt and Jackie L. Helton conceptualized this program when they saw an opportunity for North Carolina youth to earn a chance to go to Texas and compete in the National 4-H Food Challenge. Through working with a team from NC State University and N.C. A&T State University, they designed a competition that focuses on healthy and local foods. This year the competition will be virtual. A team from the 14-18 age division will be competing in Texas on September 28, 2021, for a chance to go to the national championship. Registrations for the 2021 competition are due by July 12. More information about how to register is available online.