Ducombe 3rd grader Tyson Johnson making pizza

Duncombe Elementary School’s kitchen and cafeteria became Fort Dodge’s most popular pizzeria on Friday afternoon as a group of third graders had the opportunity to craft their own pizzas.

Kids in the Kitchen is a program of Taher that aims to expose students to new foods while learning skills they can put to use in the kitchen at home.

On Friday afternoon, 20 third graders at Duncombe watched as Nick Sells, Taher chef director for the FDCSD, showed them how to roll out a ball of pizza dough, slather on the sauce and top with their favorite toppings. The students then, donning their own chef hats, went to work rolling out their own dough on the tabletops in the lunchroom.

WIth all the different shapes of rolled-out dough and the variety of toppings ranging from pepperoni and sausage to pickled jalapenos and banana peppers, each pizza masterpiece was as unique as the little chef who made it.

Third-grader Kayleigh Nelson shaped her pizza crust into a heart shape before it went into the oven.

“I made a heart because it’s almost Valentine’s Day, but it probably won’t last that long,” she said. “Because it’ll get old … and I’m going to eat it.”

Third-grader Nate Dillon decided to stray from his go-to pizza topping of just cheese, and added a few pepperonis to his.

“I just wanted to add some extra flavor because I like cheese, but I wanted to have some spice,” he said.

Making the pizzas was a learning experience for third-grader Bryon Perez.

“I thought it was going to be easy,” he said. “It’s hard.”

Duncombe Elementary third-grader Kayleigh Nelson

All that hard work felt worth it, though, as the students headed back to class carrying pizza boxes with their freshly-baked pizzas.

The Kids in the Kitchen program takes Sells to all the elementary schools and the middle school to teach kids about food. Sometimes it’s pizza, sometimes it’s homemade Caesar dressing or sometimes it’s cookie decorating.

“We’re always trying to find something,” Sells said. “Just depending on the age group and what they’re doing, that’s kind of how we tailor each Kids in the Kitchen to a specific group of children.”

The purpose of Kids in the Kitchen is pretty straightforward, Sells said.

“First it’s to get kids interested in food, to get them in the kitchen,” he said. “You see how excited they are — that’s the kind of thing that we look for, to try to get them excited about food.”

He said the hope is that students will take that excitement home with them and help their parents in the kitchen at home.

“It’s essential,” Sells said. “Cooking is a job that most people should be able to do. So we’re just giving them the practice, giving them a little bit of know-how and then obviously just having a bunch of fun.”

Duncombe Elementary third grader A'Lena Cook
Duncombe Elementary third grader Gabriella Newland

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