Children & Food

Lil’ Sprouts & Seed to Plate Cooking & Gardening Classes

One in nine Colorado children aren’t getting adequate nutrition due to financial constraints. Our  garden and taste education classes through our Lil’ Sprouts and Seed to Plate programs in schools across the Denver Metro area, increase nutritional food security in Denver. Students who take our classes get a weekly meal with fresh local produce and learn healthy eating habits. They then bring their knowledge into their homes, inspiring siblings and family members to learn about their food systems and cook more nutritious food.

Our interactive and multi-faceted classes transform children from passive food consumers to creators.

What it is:

Lil’ Sprouts is Slow Food Denver’s K-5 enrichment program that teaches children the entire seed-to-plate process. Our Seed to Plate program follows all of the same curriculum but is taught to students in middle and high school.  Using a learner driven approach inspires students to develop healthy, lifelong eating habits by making the connection between where food comes from and how it is prepared. Kids will try new foods, make delicious meals, and get excited about fresh food!

Expect your child to leave this program with an increased interest in fresh fruits and vegetables, an overall healthier relationship with food, and a new found joy in creating and sharing meals with others.

To get an idea of what students make in each class, check out one of our Lil’ Sprouts Recipe books!

Goal:

To provide an interactive learning environment transforming students from passive food consumers to creators, and in doing so increase their health awareness. Students will learn practical kitchen skills while gaining confidence and independence in creating dishes they enjoy. Participation in the entire seed to table experience results in a more intimate relationship with food and deep respect for the environment.

HOW IT WORKS:

Lil’ Sprouts weekly classes incorporate the school garden through planting, maintaining, harvesting and preparing food in seasonal cooking classes. Host schools are not required to have a garden in order to participate. Classes still incorporate the garden through indoor activities, storytelling, and education that fosters seasonality, where food comes from, and how it is grown. Our program utilizes the Slow Food USA School Garden Curriculum, written by Denver local, Gigia Kolouch.

The program runs seasonally for 4-12 week sessions, depending on the season and school schedule. Classes are offered before, during and after-school. Average class size is 12 students and we provide an experienced instructor and all the supplies needed for each class.  These classes are taught both virtually and in person.

Interested in bringing Lil’ Sprouts to your school? School Interest Form

2023-2024 Schools Served

  • Barnum Elementary School
  • Bromwell Elementary School
  • Charles M. Schenck Community School
  • Colfax Elementary School
  • Cowell Elementary School
  • Creativity Challege Community School
  • DCIS at Fairmont
  • Denison Montessori School
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College
  • Eagleton Elementary School
  • Goldrick Elementary School
  • Hallett Academy
  • Harrington Elementary School
  • Kaiser Elementary School
  • Kepner Beacon Middle School
  • Little Elementary School
  • Lowry Elementary School
  • Maxwell Elementary School
  • McKinley-Thatcher Elementary School
  • McMeen Elementary School
  • Monarch Montessori of Denver
  • Morey Middle School
  • Munroe Elementary School
  • Newlon Elementary School
  • Oakland Elementary School
  • Rick’s Center for Gifted Children
  • Rocky Mountain Prep – Noel
  • Rocky Mountain Prep – SMART
  • Sabin World School
  • Shelton Elementary School
  • Southmoor Elementary School
  • St. Elizabeth’s School
  • Steele Elementary School
  • Stephen Knight Center for Early Education
  • Stober Elementary School
  • Summit Academy
  • Teller Elementary School
  • Traylor Elementary School
  • University Park Elementary School
  • Valdez Elementary School
  • Valverde Elementary School
  • Vega Academy
  • Wyatt Academy

Our Impact:

In 2023 through Lil’ Sprouts we…

 

reached 38 schools and youth sites, held 714 classes, taught 1771 students, and provided 8906 meals.

 

Of the 34 schools we served in 2022, 23 of these are Title I schools (68%). Programming at Title I schools is offered at no cost to families and schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I bring Lil’ Sprouts to my child’s school?

If you are a parent looking to bring this program to your child’s school or a faculty member hoping to expand your school’s programs, please fill out our School Interest Form and a member of the Slow Food Denver team will get back to you shortly.

What does Slow Food Denver provide?

Each Lil’ Sprouts Class provides:

  • An experienced and passionate instructor. Each of our instructors pass a background check prior to beginning our program.
  • All necessary supplies for a fun and engaging class, including produce and food used in class.
  • Notebooks and stickers for students to use throughout the program to jot down recipes and notes.
  • Healthy and tasty recipes, engaging activities, lesson plans and more based off of Slow Food USA’s school garden curriculum
  • School garden support
  • A safe learning environment to foster exploratory cooking that empowers students to follow their intuition and make dishes based on their taste preferences

What does the school need to provide?

A space large enough to fit 12 students comfortably that has access to a sink and an outlet.

How many students are in each class?

Our class sizes range between 6 and 12 students per class.

How does the program incorporate both cooking and gardening?

The program incorporates cooking and gardening through shared class time in the classroom and outdoors in the school garden (if the host school has a garden). As our classes run seasonally, warmer months focus on garden maintenance, activities, planting and harvesting. The cooking portion of class utilizes seasonal ingredients and produce grown from the garden (if available).  For schools without a garden and on colder days a seasonal cooking class maintains connection to the garden through indoor garden activities and planning.

My child’s school does not have a garden, can we still hold the program?

Absolutely, even without a garden, classes will focus on seasonality and helping students develop an understanding of where their food comes from.

What is the cost for Lil’ Sprouts?

Program cost is $20 – $25 per student, per class. Grant funding is available on an as-needed basis.

What is the duration of the Lil’ Sprouts enrichment program?

Lil’ Sprouts is a seasonal program. Each season the program runs between 4-12 weeks, based on school preference and schedule.

How long is each Lil’ Sprouts class?

Each class is 60 minutes in length.

My child has a severe allergy. Can he/she still participate in the class?

Of course! We take food allergies and dietary restrictions very seriously. Please specify any allergies on our registration form and we ensure those foods are not brought into the classroom.

My child loves Lil’ Sprouts! Is it possible to have more than one class per week at a school?

Yes. We have a handful of schools that offer the class multiple days a week.

Is Lil’ Sprouts for all grade levels?

Lil’ Sprouts is for students ages ECE through 5th grade. We often to divide classes by age groups ECE-2 and 3-5 to provide a safe environment and set each student up for success.

Our Seed to Plate program covers the same content as Lil’ Sprouts but is geared towards middle and high school students.

Is it possible for me to volunteer in my child’s class?

Yes.  If you are interested in volunteering assisting any or all of your child’s Lil’ Sprouts classes please make note in the registration form or sign up at bit.ly/SFDVOL.

School Interest Form

Click here to fill out the school interest form.

Parent testimonial:

“The Little Sprouts program was something my little ones (and myself!) looked forward to every week! Instructors were patient and encouraging, even towards my youngest. My kids loved eating their creations after each session and became more adventurous with their tastes (huge bonus!). It was wonderful seeing how confident they became, chopping with their own knives, sautéing and stirring things in hot pots. This class does everything right in sparking curiosity and the joy of cooking.”
– Eutemia

SCHOOL REGISTRATION:

Please select your school from the list provided to complete your registration form.

Seed to Plate Morey Middle School Winter 2024

Lil' Sprouts Ricks 1st-5th Winter 2024

Lil' Sprouts Stober Winter 2024

Check out our interactive map!

Collaborative Programming

This programming is largely made possible by a grant from Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids initiative through the Denver Department for Public Health & Environment. We are working with partner organizations Denver Urban Gardens and We Don’t Waste on a collaborative program offering called Seed to Plate to Regenerate. 

Click here to learn more about this collaboration!

Want to learn more about HFDK? Click here!

Our Lil’ Sprouts Team!