An initiative promoting children’s food literacy

Ich kann kochen! (‘I can cook!’) is Germany’s largest initiative to promote hands-on nutrition education for pre-school and primary school children. It was founded by the non-profit Sarah Wiener Foundation and health insurance company BARMER. The initiative’s aim is to ensure that children experience food in a meaningful way, appreciate its value and learn how to prepare everyday meals.

Why is that important to us, and what’s at the heart of the initiative? Many studies show that fewer and fewer children get to know a balanced way of eating and preparing food at home. Over two consecutive training courses, Ich kann kochen! provides educational specialists and teachers with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills they need: to cook together with children in their facilities, and to inspire children to eat a varied diet. The training courses are free of charge, and since the pandemic have been held online. They are led by skilled trainers, among them dieticians, nutritionists and experienced chefs. After our training, participants are better qualified to nurture children’s enthusiasm for fresh produce, and to cultivate knowledge about a wholesome and healthy diet from an early age. All trained educators become Sarah Wiener Foundation Genussbotschafter:innen (‘ambassadors of taste’). In addition to training courses, we’ve created an online hub with many resources: teaching material including in-depth information on a balanced diet for children, hands-on tips, advice on working with parents, and lots of seasonal recipes. To help educators get started with their own cooking projects; kindergartens, day-care facilities and primary schools can apply for financial aid of up to 500 Euros by sending in a brief project description along with a request form. This additional funding is sponsored by the BARMER.

Ich kann kochen! started in 2015 and has reached more than one million children in Germany. So far, 23,000 specialists and teachers from nurseries (daycare centres), primary schools and extracurricular places of learning have participated in our training courses. We strongly believe that empowering children at a young age leads to improved health, and responsible food consumption as they grow older. It also helps to prevent diseases like overweight, obesity or cardiovascular diseases. 

In 2022 the Sarah Wiener Foundation and BARMER launched a new digital platform for parents – the Ich kann kochen!-Familienküche (‘family kitchen’). At  www.familienkueche.de, parents can find everything they need to know about how children can learn ‘how’ to eat and purposefully engage with food. In addition, they can find helpful videos, recipes to cook with even the youngest, crafting ideas, a weekly-meal planner, and a free-to-download cookbook.

About the initiative’s founders: the Sarah Wiener Foundation is dedicated to promoting a wholesome diet and inspiring children to become interested in healthy, high-quality food and its origin. Since 2007, we have been taking children to the farm, the supermarket and the kitchen. We want them to discover where their food comes from, what variety tastes like, and the work – and fun – that goes into a home-cooked meal. Personal and practical experience is at the heart of our foundation's work. The health insurance company BARMER wants to give children the opportunity to start life in a healthy way. The company is funding Ich kann kochen! as part of the 2016 Prevention Act. For more information, please visit www.sarah-wiener-stiftung.de and www.barmer.de

If you’re interested in participating in the ‘Ich kann kochen!’ training courses (language: German) or if you know someone who might be interested, please go to www.ichkannkochen.de/mitmachen.