Students at the Sierra School of Sacramento don’t mind getting their hands dirty when it comes to learning. After a significant amount of interest from the students, staff launched Sierra Chefs, a food-focused program, aimed at teaching life skills – like food handling, money management and shopping – in a fun, engaging and hands-on way.

“These life skills are critically important for our students to master,” said Kim Guzman, a Sierra School of Sacramento special education teacher. “The Sierra Chefs program provides an entertaining method for our students to practice key skills they will need throughout their lives.”

A bi-monthly event on campus, students from one classroom make a food item of their choosing and sell the finished product to other students, who can “purchase” the treat using their school currency. As part of the program, students go on a field trip to a local supermarket to obtain ingredients, where they put their budgeting, math, and social skills to use. Sierra Chefs recently delighted their classmates with strawberry shortcake, nachos, and chicken wings.

The most recent Sierra Chefs program focused on the popular holiday treat muddy buddies – also known as puppy chow and reindeer chow. Thirteen student chefs prepared the classic cereal, chocolate, peanut butter and powdered sugar recipe and served the finished produced to over 100 members of the Sierra School community.

“Working together as a group, we measured cups of cereal, chocolate chips and butter,” said Guzman. “The kids also took turns microwaving, mixing and filling cups. The best part for the ‘chefs’ was delivering such a yummy treat to their peers!”

Gabriel, a sixth-grade student, exclaimed that making the muddy buddies was even more fun than going to the movies.