11th annual summer food camp draws in youngsters from across Oklahoma to USAO

Dr. Jeannette Loutsch discusses food preparation surrounded by young students during the 2023 summer food camp
Campers cover a wide range of food science topics

Each summer since 2013, the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma hosts two five-day, residential food camps for eighth and ninth-grade students that helps them understand the progress of food from the garden to the kitchen to the pantry. Campers learn a wide array of fundamental cooking techniques, as well as the science behind how and why they work.

A photo of a student standing at a blender

The camp, sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s STEM Summer Academies program, is offered to students free of charge.

In 2023, USAO hosted two dozen students over the two weeks of the food camp, with attendees hailing from around the state, including the cities of Chickasha, Claremore, Edmond, Lawton, Marlow, Midwest City, Norman, Oklahoma City, Stillwater, Tulsa and Yukon. In addition to the culinary and scientific activities in which the campers participate, they also get to a taste of college life while living and learning on the USAO campus.

A photo of a student working a food mill processing apples into applesauce

“It is amazing to see a group of students from multiple diverse and varied backgrounds come together to learn and do all the different projects we have during the camp,” said Dr. Jeannette Loutsch, professor of biology. “One young man on the neurodiversity spectrum was very enamored with the process of grinding meat for homemade bratwurst and then stuffing the casings. He did much of the work on this project, and it was very rewarding to watch him tell the 59 people at the family banquet about how we did the process.”

A photo of a student stirring a large stainless steel pot with a wooden spoon

Students learned about picking and processing berries, as well as about running a berry farm, from Agape House Berry Farm in Mustang. They also picked green beans at Malloy Farm in Rush Springs, learned about raising bees and cucumbers at 7 Acre Farms in Tuttle, and attended the Chickasha Farmers’ Market.

A photo of rows of jars of freshly made jam

Back on campus, the students learned how to make various fruit jams, canned applesauce, spaghetti sauce, dill pickles, chili sauce, pickled okra and green beans. They also learned to make bread, biscuits, muffins, pasta, yogurt, cheese, cultured butter, brown mustard, how to bone chicken and grind meat for homemade bratwurst. Students aided in preparing all of the meals during the five-day camp.

For more information, contact Loutsch at 405-574-1325 or