Each week, the Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA highlights a member of their staff, a YMCA member or volunteer as part of their We Are Y Wednesdays series on social media. Today, meet Ani Hsu Obrock, the Y's Cook Camp Counselor who was once a camper herself and is passionate about teaching others about healthy eating.
"This is my second year working as a camp counselor at the YMCA. I used to be a CIT (counselor-in-training) here and then was a camp counselor at another camp. I wanted to come back to the Y; I was a camper here for years and my parents are members.
Working with the Cook Camp and Cook program during the year also aligns with my major in college. I’m going to be a senior and I’m majoring in nutrition and food science. I didn’t really cook that much in my home growing up. But once I was in college and on my own, I started to and learned different techniques. Now, I love cooking.
I was a pizza chef at Whole Foods Market one summer. I also did an internship in Burlington, VT, with a program similar to what we do here. I worked with elementary school students and did cooking classes using food from their school’s garden.
This coming year through my college, I’m hoping to go to Kenya as part of a nutrition education initiative. I want to learn about their culture and visit a very rural area called Homa Bay. They don’t have refrigeration there, so there’s no way for them to preserve their food. We’re going to help them figure out ways for better food preservation. Learning about different problems in food systems has inspired me to work in nutrition education.
When it comes to working with the kids here, I think it’s important to reach them at a younger age so you can cultivate healthy eating patterns and a love of cooking. When you make cooking interactive – you grow your own food, harvest it and cook it - you’re more likely to try something new.
Mothers have told me: "I’m surprised my kid tried kale." But I think kids are like a blank slate. We’re building their appreciation for good food and eating healthy.