Willamina Elementary School in Oregon is always cooking up new ways to get kids excited about healthy eating. This year, when the school hosted its first annual Kids Chef competition, students were given the chance to try new foods, hone their culinary talents and strengthen their writing skills at the same time.
Students in grades 3-5 kicked off the competition by writing essays answering one of six creative nutrition questions like, “If you were Little Red Riding Hood, what would you pack in your picnic basket to help keep Grandmother healthy?” and “What could Winnie the Pooh do so that he would not get stuck in Rabbit’s rabbit hole?”
Essay winners were divided into chef teams of five and assigned a High School student coach. Each team received two healthy no-cook recipes, all the necessary ingredients and equipment, and a day to sharpen their skills.
During an all-school assembly, teams had twenty minutes to prepare and plate their recipes for a panel of local celebrities. The audience got in on the excitement too by answering fun nutrition questions from the emcee.
Celebrity judges tasted each recipe and gave their feedback to the chefs, rating each dish from 1-10. Each student chef was a winner and received a trophy, apron and chef’s hat, but the team with the highest score earned Gold Chef’s hats and their names on a large trophy that will recognize future Kids Chef competition winners too.
The contest is just one of the ways Willamina Elementary School is promoting healthy lifestyles. The school was one of the first in the state to participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and recently became the second school in the nation to receive the prestigious HealthierUS School Challenge Silver Award. Willamina School District has also been recognized by the School Nutrition Association as a District of Excellence.