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The changing face of home economics

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Some students from Gainesville High School use their Nutrition and Wellness class to learn how to cook, an option few Alachua County schools still provide.

Once called home economics, Nutrition and Wellness is the next best thing. Home economics used to teach students cooking, child care and sewing.

In Nutrition and Wellness, students do book work and hands-on cooking under the family youth sciences category.

Nutrition and Wellness teacher at Gainesville High School, Dawn Bekaert, said her class teaches students basic home skills that aren’t necessarily needed to get a job in the real world.

“Problem is, is there’s not the funding for it that there used to be,” Bekaert said. “A lot of the money now a days is going into programs that provide job training and that have certification in the industry. But that’s were vocation education seems to be migrating.”

The schools not having teachers to teach the classes is also a problem. As home economics teachers are retiring, fewer teachers are coming to replace them.

Bekaert has been teaching the class for seven years and in that time, the traditional components of the class are no longer available.

“Since then, now we’re down to just the cooking class,” Bekaert said. “The parenting has gone by the wayside. The sewing has gone by the wayside. As home economics teachers have retired, newer teachers are not coming into this profession.”

The class does more than teach the students how to cook. It teaches the skills needed for everyday life, like balancing a checkbook and nutrition.

UF Family, Youth and Community Sciences Professor Linda Bobroff thinks all schools should have this program because of its benefits.

“I think it’s a really sad thing that there isn’t a family consumer sciences in all the schools that all the kids…should take,” Bobroff said. “A lot of guys end up at some point in their lives living alone, so they need basic food preparation skills.”

 Samantha Shavell edited this story online. 

About Forrest Smith

Forrest is a radio news manager for WUFT News. Reach him by emailing news@wuft.org or calling 352-392-6397.

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