What is the crEATe program?

The crEATe program provides fresh local food ingredients, recipes, and encouragement for families to cook together while supporting local farmers and food producers in the process. It is available to schools and youth groups in Rockingham, Strafford, and York counties of Maine and New Hampshire. This can be offered in a variety of ways for groups of different ages and sizes.

The program’s goals are to:

  • -Inspire families to cook together
  • -Increase awareness of healthy local food options
  • -Build a sense of community and togetherness among children
  • -Attract a wider and more consistent customer base for local farms


We accomplish this by:

  • -Creating opportunities for children to make choices regarding food and nutrition
  • -Supporting families to create nutritious meals together
  • -Developing skills needed to plan and cook nutritious meals
  • -Empowering kids to learn more about the food available in their community
  • -Building awareness of local food and farming in the Seacoast
  • -Making connections between families and local food producers


Kids that participate will:

  • -Taste new foods and flavors
  • -Become comfortable working in the kitchen
  • -Learn about new processes and kitchen tools
  • -Sharpen math skills with measurements
  • -Learn about and recognize new fruits and veggies
  • -Learn “working together” skills
  • -Create stories around food and family


How does it work?

SEL works with schools to develop a specific program to meet the needs of a school group. This may include any of the following: food and recipe bags to take home, group lessons in school, additional resources for the family, vouchers to shop at a farmers’ market, and more. In addition to the take-home bags, extra bags may also be provided for the teachers to make recipes with their classes. These provide classes the opportunity to continue the conversation about food, nutrition, hunger, farms, and agriculture. 


How is the program funded?

There is generally no cost required to participate in the program. We have generous funding from the Thomas W. Haas Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation as well as the New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation. We also receive support from sponsors and community partners. Donations from parents are always welcome.


How do I sign my child up?

Once we have confirmed program details with a site, parents of kids in a specific group will be notified. An online sign up form will be shared, which will have a maximum capacity predetermined. On the signup form we will ask:

  • -Parent/guardian email and phone number (used only for program updates)
  • -Family name, so we can properly label food ingredient bags to send home
  • -Photo release (you have the opportunity to opt)
  • -Ability pick up food/ingredient bags or make arrangements for someone else to
  • -Agreement to participate in cooking at home with your child
  • -Willingness to share feedback and testimonials


How can I get crEATe at my child’s school?

The first step is to get a teacher or faculty member on board. This program is only successful when there is buy-in from the school. It can also be helpful to get a small group of parents supportive of the program to make sure the school follows through on the commitment. Once there is interest from both parents and faculty, contact Celeste Gingras, Education Programs Manager, at [email protected] and share about your interest.

History and Testimonials

Launched in January 2022 in Partnership with Red’s Good Vibes, the first two pilot sessions took place at the Mary C. Dondero Elementary School (grades K-5) in Portsmouth, NH with 100 families signing up for each session.

The goal is to replicate this model at other schools. Read more about the pilot sessions here.

“Such an enjoyable activity tonight with my 5th grader and 8th grader (shh, don’t tell…). I even heard, ‘we should do this once a week!’ Thank you!” –Parent of students in the crEATe Program

“Thank you very much for encouraging kids to enjoy the food magic… we enjoyed the whole process of cooking… from scratch to the delicious pancake! Our weekend morning started with a delicious breakfast!! Thank you!” –Parent of students in the crEATe Program