#TWKatHome Activities

Dinner Democracy

Welcome to TWKatHome, our fun, free online content that helps kids and families explore food and build positive, healthy eating habits. As we shift into fall and winter, we are changing our focus to Food Happenings, connecting food to current events. In the coming months, we will be exploring how food can help create a better understanding of the events around us.

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In this week of Food Happenings we are looking at Election Day and how we can use food to learn more about democracy. We have lots of learning to do and a great mock election activity for you. Let’s go!

TasteWise Kids - are you hungry for some learning?

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Let's Explore Election Day

It’s Election Day today! It happens every year in November but this year is especially important because we are electing a President, the head of the executive branch of our government. Did you know Election Day is always on a Tuesday? Just like Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday. Let’s learn a little bit more about the history of this day and why it’s important.

The very first Presidential election was held between December 15th of 1788 and January 10th of 1789--it was almost a month long! Democracy was new to this young country and the rules and strategies for collecting votes from the people had not yet been made.

But as the years went on and we had more and more elections for all kinds of governmental offices, we developed a standard voting day. In 1845, Congress passed a federal law declaring the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November to be the official Election Day.

So How Does This Relate to Food?

Well a big part of the reason why Election Day happens on a Tuesday in November is because lawmakers wanted to make sure farmers were able to vote.

At that time, many Americans worked on farms far away from polling places and needed time to travel by carriage or on foot to cities. Spring was planting season, summer was for growing, but by November most of the fall harvest was over. Many of these farmers spent Sundays in church so the weekend wasn’t an option. So Tuesday was chosen to allow time for everyone to reach the polls and have their say in who was elected.

That Isn’t the Only Way Food is Connected to Election Day.

On Election Day we get to vote for policies and candidates that affect our food system. The officials we choose may make decisions on food access, schools meals, food education and support for food professionals.

Want to learn more about what food issues are on the ballot this season? FoodCorps, a national organization that supports a vision of healthy school meals and food justice for all children, has created a Voter Guide to show you how to vote in favor of a better food system.

Election Day can be a stressful time, but we’re here to remind you to take a breath and reflect on how we can teach our children to best use their democratic rights. Follow the activity below for a fun, stress free activity that teaches kids how an election works by using ballots to decide what’s for dinner.

"Vote, it's a neccessary ingredient." Photo by Manny Becerra
"Vote, it's a neccessary ingredient." Photo by Manny Becerra

Activity: Host a Dinner Election

Voting is a way for a group of people to decide something. This activity is designed to teach the importance of voting and how your vote affects the outcome of an election. Adapt this activity however best suits your family and have fun!

Follow the instructions below or use this printable version to have your own dinner election.

Don’t forget to share with us!

We would love to see what you put on your ballot, send us a picture of the winning candidate on Facebook (@TasteWiseKids) or Instagram (@tastewise_kids)! You can also email us at info@tastewisekids.org.

Instructions:

Step 1

It's time to decide what's on the ballot. You can consider this to be similar to a primary. Have different family members suggest ideas for the meal. You can discuss as much or as little as you'd like. Narrow it down to 2-3 options depending on how many family members you have.

Step 2

Use the ballot template on the next page to fill in the meal options so that there are enough ballots for each family member. You can use this time to explain how voter registration works and the importance of getting a ballot for everyone.

Step 3

Hold an election! Each family member fills out their ballot in a private place, selecting the meal they want most for dinner. You can make a ballot box out of cardboard or use a hat or bowl to drop completed ballots in.

Step 4

Now we have to count the votes. You can have one person be in charge of counting the votes or you can sit at the table together and count them out loud. Write down how many votes each option received. Whichever meal has the most votes wins.

Step 5

Want to take it a step further? Choose 2 family members to run as candidates for who will cook dinner that night. You can host a debate where each candidate has the chance to talk about what they'd like to cook and why. Maybe they have more than one idea. The audience can ask questions for the candidates to respond to. Follow steps 1-4 but with the candidates on the ballot instead of the meals. The winning candidate then announces what they've decided to cook. Explain how elected leaders affect the laws that get passed, just like the cooking candidate got to decide what everyone would be eating.

Did you enjoy this activity? Use it for other decisions you make as a family, like special occasion meals or what movie to watch together.

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What was George Washington's Favorite Food?

There are lots of red, white and blue foods we could eat to celebrate Election Day, but instead we’re looking back in time to see what our first President liked to eat.

Hoecakes, also called griddle cakes or johnny cakes, were similar to modern day pancakes but made with cornmeal instead of flour. According to historian, Washington Irving, President Washington often enjoyed a “temperate repast” of “two small cups of tea and three or four cakes of Indian meal,” drenched in butter and honey at his home in Virginia.

Want to eat like George Washington? Here’s the recipe for hoe cakes developed by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups white cornmeal, divided
  • 3 to 4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Melted butter for drizzling and serving
  • Honey or maple syrup for serving

Directions:

  • Mix the yeast and 1 1/4 cups of the cornmeal in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the lukewarm water, stirring to combine thoroughly. Mix in 1/2 cup more of the water, if needed, to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°F.
  • When ready to finish the hoecakes, begin by adding 1/2 to 1 cup of the remaining water to the batter. Stir in the salt and the egg, blending thoroughly.
  • Gradually add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of cornmeal, alternating with enough additional lukewarm water to make a mixture that is the consistency of waffle batter. Cover with a towel, and set aside at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Heat a griddle on medium-high heat, and lightly grease it with lard or vegetable shortening. Preparing 1 hoecake at a time, drop a scant 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook on one side for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. With a spatula, turn the hoecake over and continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes, until browned.
  • Place the hoecake on a platter, and set it in the oven to keep warm while making the rest of the batch. Drizzle each batch with melted butter.
  • Serve the hoecakes warm, drizzled with melted butter and honey or maple syrup.