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Chefs: Helping Schools Mix Up the Menu

Posted on 11/01/2011

School nutrition professionals across the country are cooking up creative ways to reduce added sodium and sugar in school meals and get kids excited about trying more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  In many schools, chefs are helping to mastermind these healthy changes, utilizing their culinary knowledge to create tasty, nutritious dishes that please the pickiest young eaters.

Although chefs have long played an important role in school cafeterias, more schools are welcoming chefs into their kitchens since First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Chefs Move to Schools! initiative last year.  Chefs are partnering with school nutrition professionals on culinary training sessions and nutrition education programs.  Some school foodservice programs are even managed by professionally trained chefs, who oversee all operations. 

Take a look at how one chef is making a difference in Berlin Public Schools, Connecticut:

Chefs bring their tricks-of-the-trade to schools, like knowing which herbs can season a dish with less salt and how to bake whole wheat bread that is light and tasty.  In Hillsborough County Public Schools (FL) District Chef Ben Guggenmos is not only helping spice up school menus – he’s also teaching kids ways to eat healthier at home.  During National School Lunch Week (October 10-14, 2011), Chef Ben hosted Healthy Recipe Demonstrations, showing students how to create tasty treats like “Dessert Fruit Pizza” with nutritious ingredients including fresh blueberries and strawberries, low-fat cream cheese and whole grain English Muffins.

Chef Paul Penny, a Chefs Move to Schools! participant, worked with Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (Michigan) to create school lunch specials like Sweet Potatoes and Apples and Turkey Cherry Chili, loaded with Michigan cherries, red beans and low-fat ground turkey.  Chef Paul even visited with students, encouraging them to taste test these healthy dishes.

As we all seek new ways to promote healthier lifestyles for our children, chefs are playing a critical role in schools and restaurants by sharing their culinary skills, tasty recipes and healthy ideas.

5 Comments - View or Leave a Reply


  • Jason November 8th, 2011 7:53 pm

    The Dessert Pizzas sounds awesome.
    what age group did you do the demonstartion for?
    how did they like it?

  • Silvan Brescia November 15th, 2011 12:21 pm

    Maybe you can help me, my son is in the 6th grade he goes to Pohatcong Elementary in Pohatcong nj. He comes home with a rim around his lips every. Time. He eats the American cheese in school. I was told by a friend it might be the milk in the cease but he skinks milk at home and he’s fine what’s your opini?

  • The Tray Talk Team November 16th, 2011 6:39 pm

    Silvan – Thanks for commenting. Please talk with your son’s pediatrician about your concerns. Perhaps he has a food allergy or intolerance.

  • Ben November 16th, 2011 8:21 pm

    Jason-The demonstrations were presented to 3rd and 4th graders. They were a very captive audience and they really enjoyed getting their hands dirty making their own.

  • nick weller November 23rd, 2011 3:42 pm

    school luches at my school arnt helthy


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