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Chefs Move to Schools in Action

Across the country, chefs and schools are teaming up to teach kids how to get more from their food and make healthy choices. The Chefs Move to Schools initiative encourages chefs to partner with schools to support the creation of healthy, affordable meals and educate children on healthy cooking and eating that’s also delicious!

Washington, D.C.’s Shaw Middle School was adopted by Chef Amy Parker and Registered Dietitian Steph Saullo earlier this year.  They’ve taught more than 40 kids through a partnership with Share Our Strength and the Capital Area Food Bank that they’ve called Shaw Cooks

Students gather in the cafeteria kitchen after school on Mondays for a six week Cooking Matters® for Teens course that combines hands-on cooking instruction with practical nutrition lessons. Together, the chef, dietitian and kids have made everything from veggie-laden ratatouille to oven baked chicken fingers with carrot fries and whole wheat pumpkin chocolate cupcakes.  Each student takes home a bag of groceries and the recipe to make the dish with their families. Some students have been so proud of their “homework,” they bring in a photo of their creation to show in class the following week.

One week is dedicated to a grocery store tour, a hallmark of the Cooking Matters program. Students are challenged to buy the ingredients for a balanced meal for a family of four using foods from at least three different food groups, all for under $10. They’re always surprised to see how far their money can stretch with just a few smart shopping tips like comparing unit prices and buying frozen or canned vegetables instead of fresh.

Chef Jim Kokenyesdi, a longtime Cooking Matters volunteer in Southeast Michigan, is working with his county school district as part of Chefs Move to Schools. Chef Kokenyesdi recently used the Cooking Matters for Chefs and Kids toolkit to demonstrate healthy food choices to children at Cleveland Elementary School in Port Huron. At the “Blubber Burger” stand, students added up the total fat in a fast food meal. They used cut up vegetables to make their own “Veggie Super Hero” and layered fruit, whole grains and low-fat yogurt to make parfaits. The event was such a hit with the kids that the school’s principal asked Chef Kokenyesdi to repeat it monthly as a reward for the children’s good behavior.

Many more chefs are making a difference through Chefs Move to Schools, and kids are learning that making healthy food choices is fun. For more information, check out our Chefs Move to Schools Initiative or download Share Our Strength’s free toolkit, Cooking Matters for Chefs and Kids.