Business students win competition by developing youth cooking class

Eight University students were among those announced as winners of the Ernst & Young LLP Your World, Your Vision 2011 competition for their work with elementary students in the Champaign-Urbana community.

Ernst & Young LLP, a professional service firm, challenged over 40 universities across the nation to submit a plan to make a difference in their communities. The plans had to be flexible enough to operate on a national and global scale.

“The case competition goal was to come up with a service project that targeted three specific pillars: education, environment and entrepreneurship,” said Sarah Ashida, sophomore in Business. “We thought the cooking classes would be a great way for kids to learn about these pillars while still (having) fun.”

These classes gave children hands-on experience with not only cooking techniques, but also the environmental aspects of cooking, such as purchasing locally grown produce. Children also designed their own cookbooks from scratch and learned firsthand about entrepreneurship by selling them. The program’s overall focus was good health, sound nutrition, teamwork and the development of independence and work ethic.

Erin Duber, sophomore in Business, said the project received positive feedback from the children.

“The kids absolutely loved that they got to interact with college students,” she said. “They were extremely enthusiastic and excited.”

Duber said the project idea came from a team member’s grandmother, who lives in the community.

“One of our team members, Alana (Moore), has family that lives in the area and she asked them if they had anything they would like to see in the community,” Duber said. “Her grandmother told her that teaching a class at the elementary school would be a great idea. We then used the ideas of using locally grown and organic foods for this class to fulfill the environmental aspect.”

The project’s winnings will fund its continuation in the surrounding communities. Alana Moore, sophomore in Business, said she is enthusiastic about the project and its longevity.

“One of our goals with the entrepreneurship factor of the project was to make it sustainable,” Moore said. “(Ernst and Young) made a generous donation, so we should be able to offer the cooking lessons to a lot of kids over quite a few years. We want to offer the lessons as long as we can, so the kids are definitely still involved.”

She said the team does not have plans to enter the Your World, Your Vision competition next year, but plan on helping future teams develop ideas and gather materials.

According to the College of Business website, University Business students also won the competition last year for their Champaign Community Garden proposal.