Kids Dig Local Foods at Oberlin Early Childhood Center

Kids can be picky, as any parent can tell you. Getting them to eat healthy is a big enough challenge. How about healthy and local? Tough, but not impossible. Just ask David Sokoll.

A recent Oberlin grad, as a student Sokoll had fallen in with what he calls a “thriving” local food scene, where he found “tons of options: clubs, gardens in towns, or co-ops to cook your own local food.”

After graduating, Sokoll spent a season driving a delivery truck for City Fresh, a food-share program that connects farms to urban neighborhoods in Northeast Ohio.

The appreciation for local sourcing came in handy once he became chef at the Oberlin Early Childhood Center (OECC), serving children from 6 weeks through 5 years old.

His charge is to create and serve nutritious meals for the hundreds of hungry kids at OECC. He felt that one of the surest ways to ensure a healthy meal was to incorporate local produce and local other foods.

Which is sometimes easier said than done.

One day, Sokoll offered students a local tomato gazpacho soup as a dip for a serving of chicken quesadilla. Laughing, Dave recalls, “They were so excited when I walked in and said ‘Hey— we’re going to try something new!’ and then slowly a ripple of confusion went through the class as they tried a cold tomato soup.”

Despite a mixed early reception, Sokoll remains undeterred. “I have a friend—a doctor—who tells me that it takes 10 to 15 times for young kids, touching, seeing, tasting, to get used to new foods.”

To see more about the Oberlin Early Childhood Center, visit oberlinearlychildhood.org.