Food science cooks up collaboration

Ruhi Kaneria | The Chronicle

In the new Science Behind Our Food class, food and science are not the only things working together to create a full course menu.

The class works to involve students in the special intervention classes in their ingredients purchasing process as a way for them to receive more real-world experience. Science Behind Our Food teacher, Charity Distel, facilitates the collaboration. 

Students in the Science Behind Our Food class find recipes and request ingredients under a $40 limit. Before this new partnership, Distel had to jump through hurdles in a time-consuming process to purchase ingredients for the class. Distel said the special intervention students have been a tremendous help to her class. 

“I was going to the grocery multiple times a week,” Distel said. “For me to use the [school fee] money, I would have to go to the Central Office, get the school’s credit card, go shopping, and return the credit card and the receipts every single time I go.”

After talking with Intervention Specialist Jeff Bumiller, she learned that his students went to Kroger each Monday as part  of their Career Exploration Opportunities (CEO) curriculum. The class’s need for ingredients fit seamlessly with the established routine in Bumiller’s classroom.

Intervention Specialist Jeff Bumiller also recognizes these benefits for his students. As his students now shop for the Science Behind Our Food, he appreciates the real-life experience they are receiving. 

“The students really enjoy it,” Bumiller said. “It’s a chance to get out in the community and have those opportunities to shop and to be out in the community. They’re getting more social skills through the interactions with the employees at the store and out in the community.”

Some of the CEO classes also cook weekly. Distel said she only discovered the crossover between what the students in her class and in Bumiller’s class learn by discussing with each other, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between different classroom styles.

“It’s good to experience students that have other needs and to learn to be more thoughtful, understanding, and patient with each other,” Distel said. “ You also learn that just because they aren’t the same as you doesn’t mean that they can’t also do the same things.”

Bumiller said that his students appreciate the opportunity to work with the Science Behind Food class, and he hopes the collaboration shows the power of inclusion.

“It’s just a great opportunity for both sides to benefit; my kids get something out of it and the more typical students are going to get something out of those interactions too,” Bumiller said. “Be it perspective or a little bit of understanding, a little bit more patience, a little bit more joy  because these kids are awesome. Sometimes we just don’t always get a chance to interact with them in the ways that show their true strengths.”