Cooking with Kids – Tips for Every Age

January 9, 2018

Looking for ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen? We put together a list of tasks appropriate for each age group.

Preschoolers (Ages 3-5)  

At this age, it might be hard to find basic tasks for your youngster to do in the kitchen. With a rapid growth of their imaginations, the need to touch everything in reach also grows.  

But have no fear! These fun tasks will keep your toddler busy while making sure they are staying safe: 

  • Opening ingredients from packaging  
  • Washing fruits and vegetables 
  • Peeling off skin and roots 
  • Stirring dry ingredients  
  • Spreading batter, icing, butter, etc.  
  • Setting the table  

Grade Schoolers (Ages 6-8) 

Your child has moved on from simple tasks in the kitchen and is now ready to take on a few more responsibilities. Although your  6 to 8-year-old can’t perform every job in the kitchen quite yet, you are now able to begin loosening the reins.  

These hands-on tasks will start to give your child a bit more freedom in the kitchen:

  • Measuring ingredients  
  • Stirring wet and dry ingredients  
  • Grating cheese  
  • Shucking corn 
  • Melting ingredients using the microwave  
  • Cracking eggs  
  • Rolling cookie dough into small balls 
  • Greasing pans  
  • Cutting soft ingredients  

Pre-Teens (Ages 9-12) 

Although you can’t kick back your feet while your pre-teen cooks a three-course meal just yet, your child has now advanced their status to an assistant chef.  

Although you may still want to keep an eye on their progress, these tasks will give your 9 to 12-year-old monitored independence in the kitchen:

  • Reading recipe steps out loud 
  • Scrambling eggs 
  • Preheating oven and stove  
  • Kneading dough 
  • Peeling onions   
  • Toasting bread 
  • Cutting vegetables on cutting board 
  • Draining pasta  
  • Loading and unloading dishwasher  
  • Making pancakes, waffles and other simple breakfast foods 

Teenagers (Ages 13+) 

Your child has finally reached the age of total cooking independence. It’s time to let them show you what they’ve learned over the years.  But don’t forget: bonding with your teenager in the kitchen is still fun!  

So sit back, relax and let your teen perform these more advanced tasks:

  • Using all kitchen appliances including a food processor, blender and mixer 
  • Cutting with sharp knives 
  • Boiling pasta and vegetables  
  • Chopping garlic 
  • Grilling meat on BBQ 
  • Deep frying potatoes, chicken & more 
  • Baking deserts (by themselves!)  
  • Making bread from yeast 

– Haly Brill

Mobile Teaching Kitchen at Bartram’s Garden Farmers Market


VCP’s 2017 in Seven Articles

December 27, 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to look back at Vetri Community Partnership’s amazing year. We expanded all of our programs to more schools and communities, bought a second Mobile Teaching Kitchen, and evolved the Eatiquette school lunch program to include classroom instruction and community outreach.

Special thanks to all of our dedicated donors and volunteers for helping to make it possible.

We thought we’d celebrate by listing the year’s Top 7 articles about Vetri Community Partnership. Enjoy!

  1. The Philly Restaurants That Give Back to the Community – VCP co-founder Marc Vetri started the year off right, landing the #4 spot on Eater Philadelphia’s list of “the most generous tables in town.” We continue to be inspired that so many Philly chefs and restaurateurs prioritize giving back to the community. 
  2. This Food Truck Teaches City Kids How To Cook (And Love!) Their Veggies – In February, our Mobile Teaching Kitchen (just three-months-old at the time) was included on Rodale’s Organic Life’s “100 Amazing Ideas” list in their Innovation Issue: “Distributing healthy, seasonal veggies in the city is great in theory—but what if kids don’t want to eat them, and people don’t have the recipes or familiarity to cook them? Philadelphia chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri has the answer: his new Mobile Teaching Kitchen”
  3. Changing perceptions one bowl of vegetable soup at a time – Each semester, Maureen Fitzgerald publishes 8-weeks of recipes, anecdotes and stories about our My Daughter’s Kitchen after-school cooking program. This article from March is one of our favorites from the Spring semester, mostly due to this high praise of the vegetable minestrone soup: “It tastes like angels made it,” she said dreamily. And then, as she continued to sip the soup, she changed her mind. “No, not angels. This tastes so good, it tastes like God himself made it.”
  4. Vetri Community Partnership’s Mobile Teaching Kitchen makes fresh food approachable – After a couple of months on the road, VCP’s community outreach manager Amy Falkenstein wrote a piece for to explain how the Mobile Teaching Kitchen bridges the final gap to healthy eating by showing how simple and approachable making from-scratch dishes at home can be. She explains: “When I hear someone say ‘I can’t believe this tastes so good!’ or ‘She’s a picky eater, I never thought she’d eat this!’ I know that we are doing our part by making healthy food preparation and eating approachable, fun, and, most importantly, delicious.”
  5. North Philly kids plant, harvest and feast on fresh food at Osteria – This summer, we were excited to partner with our friends at Osteria to create a special experience for students in Duckrey Elementary School’s Steppingstone Scholars program. On a beautiful July afternoon, they got their hands dirty planting herbs, tomatoes, greens and more in the restaurant’s adjacent garden with cofounder Jeff Michaud and chef de cuisine Jesse Grossman. In October, they returned to harvest and enjoy a meal using the garden’s bounty. 
  6. Fresh for All produce market in Souderton joins in the giving – As part of 6ABC’s Thanksgiving coverage, reporter Tamala Edwards visited the Mobile Teaching Kitchen at Philabundance’s Fresh for All market in Souderton, PA. Every Tuesday, Philabundance sets up a free market and VCP’s chef mentors lead cooking demonstrations that show shoppers what to do with the fresh produce they just received.
  7. Vetri Cooking Lab gets kids in the kitchen – What’s our “secret sauce” for getting kids to try (and enjoy!) fresh, healthy ingredients? VCP’s CEO Marlene Olshan explains how our Vetri Cooking Lab program engages students in the process of cooking and eating, which in turns inspires them to make healthier decisions about the food they purchase, cook and eat.

Mobile Teaching Kitchen – Pairing Culinary Education with Food Access

December 7, 2017

Getting affordable and fresh food is an important first step to obtaining food security, but what if you don’t have the basic skills or confidence to turn those raw ingredients into a healthy meal for your family?

Watch this video by Freshfly to learn how our Mobile Teaching Kitchen is serving Philadelphia families.

VCP’s Mobile Teaching Kitchen Partners with Philabundance “Fresh For All” Program

November 21, 2017

We’re proud to partner with Philabundance‘s #FreshForAll program. Through this program, Philabundance provides clients with fresh, seasonal produce — ranging from strawberries in the summer to spaghetti squash in the fall.

Vetri Community Partnership‘s Mobile Teaching Kitchen is on-site at #FreshForAll events in Camden, Upper Darby and Souderton to support clients by showing them simple, healthy dishes they can make with the available produce.

Media coverage of our partnership:

GSK supports healthy eating after-school with Vetri Cooking Lab

October 16, 2017

From left: Evan Hudson-Crump (student at Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary); Marc Vetri; Dan Troy (Senior Vice President and General Counsel at GSK); and  Tyreemah Mainor-Jettel (student at Tanner G. Duckrey Elementary) 
Photograph by Alan Brian Nilsen

How do you encourage kids to eat more healthy food? By teaching them to cook tasty, nutritious, kid-friendly recipes with ingredients they can find in their own neighborhoods. Today, GSK announced a $440,000 grant to Vetri Community Partnership to expand their Vetri Cooking Lab program to 30 after-school sites across Philadelphia and Camden. This program will reach 1,200 students over the next two years with a 10-week, hands-on cooking and nutrition curriculum.

“GSK is proud to support the Vetri Cooking Lab after-school program for local students,” said Daniel Troy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, GSK. “The Vetri Community Partnership team has already shown that their innovative approach teaches young people to make healthier eating choices, and we can’t wait for Vetri Cooking Lab to reach another 1,200 students over the next two years.”

Last year, GSK funded a pilot of Vetri Cooking Lab, reaching 343 students with 480 hours of nutrition education, after which students reported that they were cooking on their own, using nutritional labels to make eating choices and able to find healthy food in their own neighborhoods. Support for Vetri Cooking Lab is part of GSK’s long-standing commitment to build healthy communities across the world and in the US, including Greater Philadelphia where the company employs nearly 5,000 people.

GSK and Vetri Cooking Labs at Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey Public School, Philadelphia.
Photograph by Alan Brian Nilsen

“Engaging kids in the process of cooking and eating fresh, healthy food is a powerful way to teach them about nutrition, the food system and their own health and wellness,” said Marc Vetri, founder of Vetri Community Partnership. “In Vetri Cooking Lab, we’re doing that while also connecting the preparation of the recipe to all of the science, math and reading concepts they’re learning during the school day.”

Vetri Cooking Lab builds on Philadelphia’s success to drive down obesity rates among young people, as well as ongoing efforts to expand high-quality out-of-school time programming for students. Every after-school site that participated in the pilot is running Vetri Cooking Lab again this school year, and dozens more are eager to start the popular program for their own students.

“The program is having a noticeable impact. Students are thinking more critically about their food choices – choosing whole foods over processed foods – and taking their recipes home to their parents and preparing the dishes with their families,” said Marlene Olshan, CEO of Vetri Community Partnership. “We are grateful to GSK for their generous support and look forward to partnering with them to improve the health outcomes for our region’s children.”

2017 Impact Report

July 27, 2017

2017 Impact Report

Healthy Classroom Ideas & Resources for Teachers

July 21, 2017

As a teacher it’s not always easy encouraging your students to eat healthy. Most kids would prefer to snack on a candy bar rather than a healthy vegetable. But being a teacher comes the responsibility to be a role model for your students. Implementing routines in the classroom to promote healthy eating and living can have a significant impact on your students well-being. Here are some healthy ideas to practice with your students


  • Model healthy behavior in the classroom – drink water, eat fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks, etc.
  • Encourage students to think critically about how food makes them feel – how does eating apples, bananas or almonds compare to eating fries and a milkshake?
  • Sit with students in the cafeteria and encourage them to try new things. Ask questions about their meal – how does it taste, who made it for them, what do they like best?
  • Ask students about their favorite foods and what they like to eat outside of school. Make suggestions to stimulate curiosity about new and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
  • Encourage students to offer to help in the kitchen if their family cooks at home – whether it’s doing dishes or peeling carrots.


  • Start an after-school cooking club or global cuisines club
  • Incorporate nutritious foods into classroom celebrations or substitute healthier options for school bake sales – fresh fruit skewers, zucchini bread, etc.
  • With help from motivated students, advocate for healthier options in the cafeteria
  • Invite local chefs, farmers and other food industry professionals to talk to students on career day
  • Plan a “field trip” for your students to visit your school kitchen and speak with the individuals who ensure there’s food for students each day
  • Use whole fruits and vegetables to teach science or biology lessons – for example, to show the parts of a plant, vegetable families, etc.
  • Teach a lesson on junk food marketing and how it targets school-age children – have students develop and draw their own healthy food mascots
  • Use food as a creative writing prompt – describe your favorite food, write instructions to preparing a recipe, review your favorite restaurant, etc.


Mobile Teaching Kitchen at the Please Touch Museum

June 28, 2017

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of hands-on learning, so when the Please Touch Museum asked us to join us at their monthly First Wednesday events this summer, we were thrilled!

From 4-7 p.m. on July 5th and August 2nd, our Mobile Teaching Kitchen will be parked out front of the Please Touch Museum for food-focused programming for parents and children. Attendees will have the opportunity to make and try a seasonal, nutritious dish and then visit the museum for a deeply discounted admission price of $2.

As Please Touch Museum CEO Patricia D. Wellenbach explains: “Please Touch Museum is dedicated to the education and well-being of the whole child. Our focus on early learning and skill-building extends to teaching children and their families how to make good choices about the foods they eat, and ultimately lead healthier, more active lives. We are thrilled to partner with Vetri to make this impactful programming accessible to families throughout the summer.”

“Our goal is to show people that healthy ingredients and at-home food preparation can be approachable, fun and, more importantly, delicious,” said VCP Community Outreach Manager, Amy Falkenstein — also known as Chef Amy.

So, stop by, head to the supermarket exhibit, practice using measuring cups, hear a story that’ll bring cooking to life, and take a recipe for the road!

We promise it’ll be fun and full of flavor. We hope to see you there!

When: July 5th & August 2nd, 4-7 p.m.
Where: Please Touch Museum – Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131

July – What’s in Season?

June 27, 2017


Eating fresh seasonal produce comes with a handful of benefits – better taste, more nutritional benefits, and you can get more bang for your buck. Not to mention, that purchasing what’s in season typically means you’re supporting local farmers, especially if you’re picking up from a farmers’ market. Seeing that July is upon us, you may be wondering, what produce is in season during July in the Northeast? Good question! Here’s a list of what is in season, right now:


  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Raspberries


  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Green Beans
  • Green Onions
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

As quick as July came, it’ll be on the books before we know it. Check out this handy Seasonal Food Guide in the months to come, tailored to your location!


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