Dinner with a difference: Marco Y students treat parents to super soup and salads

Nagat Khalil, with daughter Haya Ali, anticipates the soup and salad dinner prepared by Marco Y early learners and after-schoolers.

In this case, too many cooks didn't spoil the broth — quite the opposite, actually.

The cooks were Greater Marco Island Family YMCA early (pre-school) learners and after school students who treated their parents to slow-cooked vegetable and chicken broth soup this past Friday evening at the Youth Development Center.

"It's a community event where parents get a taste of food the young ones make with their own hands," said the Y's "Aspire" (education) program director Maria Gomez before the big slurp down.

Parents shoot photos and record video of the songs and dances presented by the students.

"The kids chopped up all the vegetables, so there are going to be different sizes in the bowls. Big and little pieces."

No matter. The parents loved the soup, which was served out of a long row of pots on the kitchen counter. Salads complemented the soup.

Just before mealtime, the early learners - dressed as Pilgrims and Native Americans in a nod to Thanksgiving - entertained the crowd of about 100 with some dances, followed by after school students performing songs.

Ingrid Castro and her daughter Maya Castro are at Y's Youth Development Center.

Many iPhone snapshots and videos later, the Y's Youth Development Director, Stephanie Pepper, welcomed the crowd and cheerfully echoed Gomez's observations about big and little pieces of vegetables characterizing the soup.

"The big thing is that they made the soup and the salads," Pepper said.

Gomez said the Aspire program runs 2 to 6:30 p.m. on school days. Students do their homework, enjoy snacks, play outside and also participate in games and arts and crafts, she said.

For more on these programs, as well as many others presented by the Y for youth and adults, visit marcoymca.org, or call 394-3144.

Also follow the Y on Twitter @YMCAMarco and Facebook @marcoymca.

Early learner (pre-school student) Kairi Camandona enjoys performing before the soup was dished up.