Belvoir’s Child and Youth Services is focused on developing active, healthy children and teenagers, and that mission extends to the large population of home-schooled students, through collaboration with Belvoir Home Educators.

More than a dozen 10-18-year old home school students gathered at the Youth Center, Feb. 4, to don aprons, hair nets and paper hats before learning about healthy cooking ideas from Chef Jeff.

“I’m the team manager for the Army Reserve Culinary arts team,” said Staff Sgt. Jeff Vaughn, who is also the Youth Center’s head cook, in addition to his duties as a garrison passport and visa agent. “I’m teaching them something quick they can create to help their family out while their parents are cooking an entrée. They can be making a great salad to go alongside the meal.”

The students helped Chef Jeff in the kitchen breaking up romaine lettuce; frying tofu and chicken breasts; and prepping the bacon, crouton and avocado toppings.

CYS fitness specialist Carla Milton said the cooking class is a bonus session for home schoolers who are part of her weekly fitness classes.

“Each month, we have a special event for them, and this month, we’re doing healthy cooking made simple for the teen,” she said, adding that proper nutrition is an important part of physical fitness.

Milton hopes the students will build off these lessons.

“This branches off into life lessons, so it’s vital for them to be in the kitchen getting hands-on experience, and they seem to be enjoying it,” said Milton.

As she sat to enjoy the team-prepared salad, Christina Hassell, 15, said she enjoyed the class.

“I loved it, because it’s given me new recipes that are healthy. I like how Chef Jeff had tofu as an alternative to chicken, so I could enjoy a vegetarian version,” said Hassell.

Milton also likes that these extra classes give the home schoolers some extra time to socialize.

“It’s a great way for them to come together and interact, without having technology in front of them.”