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Meet Elana, our new Director of Wellness + Food Education

28 Mar

We would like to introduce you to Elana Karp, our new Director of Wellness + Food Education!  Elana comes to us with an impressive background of teaching, entrepreneurship, and culinary expertise.  She is responsible for running our after-school cooking classes, directing our food + garden summer camp, and implementing countless  wellness and nutrition initiatives in our community through out the school year. We sat down with Elana to ask her a few questions about her journey as a teacher and cooking instructor, and what brought her to Butter Beans.

What drives you to teach children about healthy eating?
As a teacher, I saw first hand how food can effect childrens’ moods, focus, energy, academic performance, and of course physical health. It is vital for children to be exposed to information about nutrition and healthy eating at a young age, so they can learn how to make healthy choices. When they learn about healthy food and why it’s important to eat well and exercise, and learn how to cook, they become motivated and empowered to make better choices and lead healthier lives.
What was one of your favorite moments while teaching the 2nd grade?
My T.A. was Haitian, and after the earthquake in Haiti, my kids really wanted to figure out a way to help, especially because they felt a personal connection to the disaster. We talked about what had happened and why it’s important to help people when they’re in trouble. We organized our school’s first ever bake sale and raised over $400 to donate to the Red Cross. A representative from the Red Cross came to accept the money and my kids got to talk about the specific ways their hard work would help those in need. They were so proud of themselves and I was so proud of them! 
What is one of your cherished memories of cooking as a child?
My grandma spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  She was a very small lady so she stood on a stool at the counter to cook. Whenever I would stay at her house she would make whitefish salad from scratch for breakfast. I remember helping her mush the fish with a fork and cut the celery into tiny pieces. 
What is your favorite meal to make at home?
I love to cook a perfectly roasted chicken with either mashed or herb roasted potatoes and a mixed green salad. 
Describe a moment in cooking class that stood out for you.
I arrived at a cooking lesson that I was doing for a family of 4 (mother, father, and 2 girls). The younger daughter was waiting for me at the door with her apron and kids cook book. I didn’t even get to take my jacket off before she started showing me all the things she loves to cook. (She had made pancakes for breakfast that morning).  She spent the rest of the lesson teaching her family what to do around the kitchen and being my assistant. It was inspiring to see such enthusiasm! 
What attracted you to want to work for Butter Beans?
I love teaching and cooking, so I was looking for an opportunity that would combine my two passions. When I learned about Butter Beans it seemed like the perfect place forge ahead in my career, and become more involved in the healthy school lunch movement. I couldn’t be happier!