Nearly 1,000 children from Emerson, Henry, Grant, Burroughs, Naples and Hudson elementary schools donned chef's hats and slipped on plastic gloves for the "Now We're Cooking" program during Kids Cooking Week. The students were invited to cook in their school cafeterias and at the district's Nutrition Center. They created their own recipes, which they promptly made and ate. Nutrition Services coordinated the effort to give elementary school children safe and simple food preparation skills. They also reinforced the importance of nutritious eating to learning and achievement and promoted the importance of family in developing stronger relationships. Students mixed, kneaded and flattened flour tortillas, which were then cooked for them. They made fruit sundaes from pineapples, bananas and apples topped with yogurt, whipped topping and a strawberry. Plant art taught children about the different edible parts of the plant--seed, stem, leaf, fruit, root and flower. A slice of whole wheat bread with a spread of peanut butter served as the canvas for their Matisse-like creations. On top of the slice, the children placed a celery stick, parsley, raisins, shredded carrots and broccoli to create their own masterpieces. Many tried a new food for the first time and said that they would like to try cooking at home, too. They learned that well nourished children do better in school, and family meals seem to positively affect school performance. With a growing number of children preparing their own meals, this event was a perfect opportunity to teach them about good nutrition, kitchen safety and sanitation. The California Department of Education, the Dairy Council of California and the California Department of Food and Agriculture sponsored the annual event.