Children & Food

Lil’ Sprouts Cooking & Gardening Classes

One in five Colorado children aren’t getting adequate nutrition due to financial constraints. Our  garden and taste education classes through our Lil’ Sprouts program in schools across the Denver Metro area, reduces overall food insecurity 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 cirruculum 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.

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

Currently Serving:

  • Charles M. Schenck Community School
  • Cowell Elementary School
  • Munroe Elementary School
  • Johnson Elementary School
  • Fairmount Elementary School
  • Dora Moore Elementary School
  • Teller Elementary School
  • Fairview Elementary School
  • DCIS at Fairmont
  • West Woods Elementary School

Denver Metro Area consists of ten Colorado counties: the City and County of Denver, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, Adams County, Douglas County, the City and County of Broomfield, Elbert County, Park County, Clear Creek County, and Gilpin County.

Our Impact:

In 2021 through Lil’ Sprouts we…

reached 18 schools, held 292 classes, taught 724 students, and provided 5,362 meals.

 

A majority of the schools we work with are in underserved neighborhoods. Of the 18 schools we serve, 15 of these are Title I schools.  In 2021, we provided scholarships for schools that are 89.9% non-white, with 87.2% of students receiving free or reduced lunches.

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 15 students comfortably that has access to a sink and an outlet.

How many students are in each class?

Our class sizes range between 10-15 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 $16 – $20 per student, per class.

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  includes grades Kindergarten through 6th grade. Ideally, classes are divided by age groups K-3, 3-5, to provide a safe environment and set each student up for success.  However, we are able to accommodate classes that includes all K-5 ages.

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.

Can my school host a single Lil’ Sprouts?

Yes. A single Cooking from the Garden class is $100.

School Interest Form

SCHOOL REGISTRATION:

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

Fairmount Elementary School

West Woods Elementary School

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

Our Lil’ Sprouts Team!