Cooking Up Community Engagement

At the weekly Drew Cooking Club, students from the Charles R. Drew Elementary School in West Philadelphia team up with Penn undergraduates studying nutritional anthropology and students in the Graduate School of Education to learn about smart food choices.

At Drew, the Cooking Club participants become active agents of change in their school community by selecting and preparing healthy, nutritional dishes and encouraging their peers to try these foods that may not be familiar to some of them. The Penn students and the fifth graders test and perfect a healthy recipe to improve the school cafeteria’s food offerings, and this dish is served to the entire elementary school during the next day’s lunch. The Drew Cooking Club is coordinated through the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, one of the Netter Center's many university-assisted community school programs.

The nutritional anthropology class at Penn is one of the many Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses offered through the Barbara and Edward Netter Center for Community Partnerships. ABCS courses provide students with opportunities to learn through community service that is rooted in and intrinsically linked to teaching and research.

During the 2009-2010 academic year, the Netter Center offered 61 ABCS courses coordinated across five schools and 22 departments, enrolling 1,575 undergraduate and graduate students.

Text by Julie McWilliams
Photos by Scott Spitzer