Families are returning to the dinner table due to an Owen County Cooperative Extension Service program.

Judith Hetterman, Owen County family and consumer sciences extension agent, began offering Recipes for Life in 2009 to teach students how to read recipes and cook. Funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education, the program has evolved, and fifth-graders now learn how to prepare and serve a five-course formal meal.

“This is one of the best programs that we have for our students,” said Julie Donahue, Owen County Public Library youth services librarian and extension volunteer.


Owen County fifth-graders learn knife skills during the extension program, Recipes for Life.

Owen County fifth-graders learn knife skills during the extension program, Recipes for Life.

When the students are not cooking, volunteers teach them about nutrition, manners and etiquette. Before the event, students submit a family recipe to be compiled in a book that each student receives.

Grayson Rogers, a fifth-grader at Maurice Bowling Middle School, said that while he cooks with his family, he realizes not everyone does.

“I think it's good for kids to get a chance to learn about cooking,” he said. “Some kids eat out every night and do not know what is in their food.”

In the past year, extension agents in six other counties also hosted the Recipes for Life program,
reaching nearly 900 students.

“After completing the program, 92 percent of students said they plan to prepare food at home, and 90 percent said they plan to try new foods,” said Lola Adedokun, senior evaluation specialist for the Kentucky Nutrition Education Program.

NEP will release it as a statewide curriculum in 2019.

-- Katie Pratt