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Zoom In 31 Update: The Kids are Fed Up, Take a Cooking Class

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La Shea Sanchez got the fall 2014 BAYCAT Academy Youth Media Producers excited about healthy cooking ast Wednesday, Oct. 1

La Shea Sanchez surveys the room as each student, nose scrunched and lips pursed, holds a piece of fresh, raw broccoli to their mouths. She instructs everyone to take a crunchy bite, and almost immediately protestations begin. “What does it taste like?” she asks. “Gross!” “Dry!” “Like broccoli!”

How does the food you consume influence the state of your mind?


For the past couple of weeks, BAYCAT Academy’s youth media producers have been exploring answers to that question. This past Tuesday, the media-makers enjoyed a cooking class as research for this fall’s artistic theme: mental health. Students learned how to cook simple, nutritious meals with La Shea Sanchez, supervisor for the Bayview Opera House Dare 2 Dream Arts Enrichment program, events coordinator at the BVOH, and healthy eating instructor. At first hesitant to munch on raw veggies and gulp smoothies blended with spinach, the class soon gave way to enthusiasm and cheers for second and third helpings as the kids learned how to positively fuel their minds with healthy food for their bodies.

BAYCAT Academy, BAYCAT, education, youth media, San Francisco, Bayview Hunters Point, cooking, healthy eating, healthy mind, mental health

BAYCAT Youth Media Producer Jade helps make a healthy salad with La Shea and her fellow media-makers

The culinary class followed a community screening of the documentary, Fed Up, which details the profound impact of America’s sugar industry on obesity in this country and the poor health of our children. After the screening, the students connected the film’s arguments with Zoom In’s theme: “A lot of people when they’re sad they eat a lot, and that can affect their physical health as well as their mental health,” shared Ginger, BAYCAT Advanced Filmmaking student. The media producers were so inspired by the film and its message that they elected to make changes in their own lives: the Music & Advanced Filmmaking students deciding to eliminate juice as a class refreshment option and Jazzy, a Music Production student, pledged to give up eating Hot Cheetos.

Since the two workshops, the filmmaking students have solidified themes for their group projects and will begin production soon…

You can catch the premiere of Zoom In 31 in person at BAYCAT on December 4th at 6:30pm PST, or online through our livestream!


Food…the melting pot

Part of the reason why I created an open space here at BAYCAT is so I can overhear what my colleagues are saying, without having to apologize for being nosy.  Let’s face it, in a work environment, how much does one really learn via office email vs. by osmosis?  Which leads me to one of my true joys of life…overhearing our students.

It’s impossible during these I-wish-it-was-hot summer days NOT to overhear singing, laughter, hoopin’ & HOLLARin’ during Digital Media Camp.  To give our students credit and every good teacher knows that in schools in a ci-tay like SF,  gone are the days of students sitting with their hands folded in a quiet classroom.  Did that ever even exist?  It gives me great inspiration to know our students are most productive in their brainstorming, teasing out of ideas, and learning when there is this buzzZZZed din in the air.  So, yesterday’s DIN was SO DYNAMIC, as one student described, “we were all HIGH on life at the same time,” (OK, imagine 19 rambunctious TEENagers HIGH on life AT THE SAME TIME! OH MY G!) Today, I decided to accept the ol’ adage, “if you can’t beat them, JOIN them!”

So, I sat with our students in our community circle at the start of the training day, and the question on the table was, “what’s your favorite food memory?”  Instantly, you saw eyes roll toward the corners of the eyebrows while the corners of the mouths turned upward into crescents or should we say croissants?!

I loved hearing about how many folks LOVE breakfast from Jasmine lovin’ pigs-in-a-blanket to Russell lovin’ French Toast. Russell eating pretend-french toast!

But we said food memory (translation to teenagers = disaster stories!)  Now how is it that when you mention food to teenagers, guaranteed you can’t get through a discussion without at least one story of someone…what’s the polite way of saying it?  RALPHIN’?!  Uhmmm…I’ll spare you those.

Shawnee described her first french toast making experience when she dropped the toast onto the burner of an electric stove where she quickly learned a lesson in the melting temperature of sugar since the grill caught on fire.  With her quick reflexes she picked up the burning french toast but like a “HOT POTATO” she dropped it on the floor.  Oh WELL. Shawnee's Self-Potrait

(Shawnee was not harmed in the handling of the toast!)

Apparently, Allen discovered when left alone to cook his favorite food, grilled cheese, the melting temperature of butter AND cheese.  He recounted that as he lifted the top of his “GF grill” the grilled cheese fixins’ had disappeared and all that was left was the butter.  Allen & Mr. Hammond love grilled cheese!Allen’s meltdown memory was Mr. Hammond’s comfort food as he described how every time he was sick, his Mom would prepare grilled cheese, tomato soup and Charlie Brown’s Halloween special.  His favorites even to this day. awwwwwww.

Needless to say, the students’ stories made me reminisce about my Mom’s dumplings a.k.a. a must-have-if-stranded-on-an-island-potstickers.  These food memories became a melting pot of sharing…either that or a warning to parents: DO NOT let your kids cook by themselves!  Oh, and did I tell you they are bringing breakfast for each other tomorrow?  Unplug the appliances please!

BAYCAT Students and Team: Thanks for including me today and for letting me share your photos & stories on the blog.