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Queens lawmaker brings after-school cooking program to students in Rockaway Park

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato Rockaway Park cooking class with students
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato joins a group of students at P.S. 317 in Rockaway Park participating in an afterschool cooking program. (Photo courtesy of Amato’s office)

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato donned an apron and hairnet and rolled up her sleeves to cook with a group of fourth and fifth grade students from P.S. 317 at Rockaway Park participating in an after-school cooking program. 

Common Threads, a national nonprofit, serves all five boroughs and is currently in 59 schools and community-based organizations. 

The organization provides children and families with cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness while also bringing people together to celebrate traditions and culture. 

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato Rockaway Park cooking class with students
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato helps two students in the kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Amato’s office)

Each student directly participates in making the food. They start by chopping and stirring the ingredients, followed by learning about the country where the food is from, and the program ends by having a healthy meal together. 

The theme of that week’s class was Italy and the students learned not only about the food, but some fun facts about the country and culture. 

The students were broken up into different stations and mixed the sauce, chopped the onions and carrots and washed the lettuce — taking the lead on most of the critical steps in creating the delicious meal. 

“You could see the joy and fun each kid was having,” said Amato, who allocated funding for the program at P.S. 317. “This shows why after-school activities are critical and the impact it has on students. Education can occur not just in the classroom, but through alternative routes like after-school programs and hands-on activities.” 

“At such a young age they are learning how to cook healthy options, work together and learn about another culture,” Amato added. “These are life skills that will stick with them as they continue to grow and that is truly wonderful to see.” 

Amato says she stands committed and will continue to work on bringing amazing extracurricular programs to the students of Ozone Park, Howard Beach and across the Rockaway peninsula. 

Abby Batista, NYC senior program manager for Common Threads, said they’re grateful to Amato for providing funding for the after-school program at P.S. 317. 

 “The impact from those dollars allows us to continue servicing children within the Queens community. Our Cooking Skills and World Cuisine classes provide cooking and nutrition education as life skills that encourage our students to adopt healthier habits,” Batista said. “Without the support from Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato, these classes simply would not be possible.” 

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