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Teenage dream makers

Posted: September 10, 2008 10:24 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Sequoia Charter School student Erika Hice, 17, measures out barbecue sauce for her meal during a Wednesday field trip to Dream Dinners in Valencia.

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Students from Sequoia Charter School donned burgundy aprons Wednesday before perusing a list of potential entrees and selecting the meals they would like to prepare and take home to their families.

Pat Hibbert's Food and Nutrition students were on a class field trip to Dream Dinners, a Valencia company that lets customers assemble home-cooked meals to freeze and use throughout the month to feed their busy families.

"This is so exciting. It's so wonderful that they are doing this for us," said Tammy Norrbom, the class's instructional assistant. "The students look forward to trips like this, and getting to take a dinner home to their families is such a treat for them."

The students bent over their cooking stations, measuring ingredients and following step-by-step directions to create their own culinary masterpieces.

Erika Hice, an 11th-grader at Sequoia, said she doesn't usually cook much at home, but after learning to make sweet cider barbecue chicken she plans to try to cook more.

"I'm usually more of a fast-food person, but this smells really good - I want to eat it right now," Erika said.

Candace Ford, a Sequoia 12th-grader, made cheese-lovers manicotti for her family.

"It was really simple - everything went step-by-step so I felt like I actually knew what I was doing," Candace said. "It looked good. I can't wait to go home later and eat it."

The purpose of the field trip was to teach students that healthy foods can be easily prepared at reasonable costs - and can taste great.

"It helps them understand the difference between what they usually choose to eat - like fast food - and what other meals are out there," Hibbert said. "I've had students who don't eat fruits or vegetables, so I make them at least try this stuff and they usually end up enjoying what they're eating."

Sequoia Charter School serves students in grades seven through 12 who need a therapeutic environment to support their educational needs.

"A lot of these kids are from single-parent homes, or have been placed in residential situations because of family difficulties, so they don't have the opportunity to help cook or eat meals like this," Hibbert said. "I try to do at least one field trip a month just to get them out into the community."

After an hour at Dream Dinners, each student had a prepared meal to take home.

"They take it home and stick it in the oven or on the grill, and they've cooked dinner for their family," Norrbom said.

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