Molina’s Cooking Club motivates kids to eat healthy meals

Noah and Alex gather all the ingredients for their salad during Thursday’s cooking class sponsored by Molina Healthcare at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Holtville.

HOLTVILLE – Healthy eating was the name of the game Thursday at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church as Molina Healthcare hosted its annual cooking class for the children of Holtville.

The class was started three years ago by Molina Healthcare, inspired by the need in the Valley for information on healthy lifestyles. Alexandra Bravo, manager of community engagement for Molina Healthcare, said the classes are meant to educate the children on the importance of eating healthy, good nutrition, and physical fitness.

“It’s meaningful to bring this salad, not just to the children, but to the community at large so that it shows children how to eat different things,” said Bravo.

Close to 60 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Holtville were in attendance at Thursday’s class, but the event was open to the entire community, according to Bravo.

Two speakers from Pioneers Memorial Healthcare, dietitian Geraldine Pallin and intern Ben Saucier, gave the children a presentation on the importance of healthy eating, explaining how salad contained important nutrients for their bodies.

“The idea behind it is to get the kids excited about food and how it’s being made,” said Saucier. “So they themselves can make food and help out in the kitchen.”

Once the presentation was finished, the children were hands-on with ingredients to make what Molina personel called a “Hearty, Smarty Chicken Salad.”  Bravo said the ingredients can easily be found at the grocery store and prepared at home by the children themselves.

Kids in attendance were quick to pick up on the messages, with some already talking about how healthy salads were for them.

“I think everyone should eat healthy because the healthier you eat, the healthier you’ll be,”said Sydney, one of the kids attending.

Leila pours out some of her salad into a bowl before digging in.

“Instead of eating all that junk, the salad can fill you with good nutrition,” said Mallorie when asked about the recipe.

As soon as they had finished tossing the salads, the children dug in with some eager to make another bag to take home for their parents or siblings once they finished. But others did not eat their creations with the same idea in mind.

Many who claimed to dislike salad before the class quickly found they enjoyed it. One boy named Jovanney, who was very vocal about not liking salad, happily ate his food once he had finished preparing it.

“I like it now,” said Jovanney. “My favorite part of it has been the tomatoes.”

“I’m not a fan of salads, but I eat them,” said another boy, Jacob. “I like to run, so I need to eat healthy.”

After the salads had been packed away, the children were given certificates of completion by the staff and Molina Healthcare’s mascot, Dr. Cleo.

For the first time, Pioneers Memorial Hospital and Molina Healthcare joined forces to bring the program to the children of Holtville, a partnership organizers said they plan to continue.

Both Molina and Pioneers are planning to sponsor more classes similar to this one in the future.