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U.S. History and Food Prep Students Study 'Depression-Era' Foods

A Joint Class Project Adds Flavor to American History

STEM High School History student stirs food in a pan at the stove     Food Prep students mix dough for bread while STEM High School History student watches

What’s a creative way to study the Great Depression? Team up with your peers in the Food Prep class to learn how to prepare depression-era dishes. That’s exactly what the U.S. History class at the STEM High School did. Depression-era foods were inexpensive yet filling items that were readily available and included lentils, beans, potatoes, bread, onions, peas, pasta, rice, beets, and radishes. Special occasion meals at the time might also include thin cuts of inexpensive beef. The STEM High School is part of the Long Island Academy of Applied Technology, the Career and Technical Education division of Eastern Suffolk BOCES. The Food Prep Program is an Eastern Suffolk BOCES Special Career Education course of study for students with special needs. It teaches industry-specific skills which may enable students to obtain entry-level employment. Both programs are housed at the Gary D. Bixhorn Technical Center in Bellport, which makes cross-class collaboration easy.  


Food Prep student shows STEM High School History student how to dice an onion     Group shot of students and staff


Combining culinary and history lessons proved to be fun, informative, and delicious for everyone. Both classes met in the culinary kitchen classroom where Food Prep Teacher Lauren Battista demonstrated the proper way to hold a knife, dice vegetables, sort through dry lentils to remove small stones, and prepare and knead dough for homemade bread. History and Food Prep students worked in tandem to prepare sautéed potatoes and onions with rice and fresh bread, and then enjoyed the finished product together. “Partnering with colleagues who teach other subjects can produce some of the best projects,” explains Lindsay Schultz, STEM High School U.S. History teacher. “Both classes were introduced to subject matter they may not have normally covered while learning about a somber period in our country’s history.”