In May 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama started the Chefs Move to Schools initiative and challenged chefs nationwide to share their culinary expertise in the fight against childhood obesity. In response, the Douglas County School District (DCSD) has partnered with the American Culinary Federation Colorado Chefs Association (ACFCCA) to provide nutrition education opportunities for students and to promote healthy school lunches through a variety of activities.
Typically, chef events include hands on instruction and demonstrations. The events introduce healthy new foods, teach proper nutrition, and provide rich educational experiences on where foods originate and how they get to the table. And of course, the chefs are not shy about sharing creative and tasty recipes!
Having chefs in schools has had a few unintended, but welcomed, surprises. Picky eaters try new foods, and when at home, kids request foods that parents never imagined they would like to eat. Students learn culinary techniques for slicing, dicing, and preparing foods that get them inspired about being in a kitchen and, most importantly, about food in general.
In DCSD, volunteer chefs have worked with students in school gardens to develop garden themes and recipes that can be enjoyed at harvest time. They have sponsored taste testing sessions and hosted school assemblies. They work with students in DCSD’s ProStart program at ThunderRidge High School to develop new recipes, some of which are now featured on the District’s lunch menu.
The next chef event is the District’s 2nd annual Fittin It In 5K race where chefs are being paired with students to compete in a healthy post-race snack recipe contest. The recipes will be judged on theme, appeal, and nutritional value. For more info on the race visit: http://www.prerace.com/races/event/31788/DCSD-Fittin--It-In-5K-Highlands-Ranch-CO.