WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Integrating chef-inspired menu items in school cafeterias may have the potential to help students make healthier choices and increase the number of students buying lunch at school.
WHAT’S THE DEAL
One component of the Let’s Move campaign is a program entitled “Chefs Move to Schools” (CMTS). This program enables chefs to be paired with schools to offer culinary guidance to food service workers. Chefs must create menu items within the boundaries of the pre-existing ingredients found in school kitchens. There are no additional, and potentially expensive, ingredients integrated into the new menu items. School lunches must meet certain nutritional and administrative guidelines in order to receive funding from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Whatever culinary creations chefs whip up must be healthy and operate within the school’s budget.
One high school in New York decided to participate in CMTS and a trial study was undertaken to explore the impact of the new cafeteria fare on students’ participation in school lunch. A local chef volunteered her time to become familiar with ingredients in the school’s kitchen and then crafted items she felt students would most enjoy. She also spoke with food service workers at the school to understand what items on the current menu were most popular. Once she decided what to make, the school had an after-school taste-testing event to get students excited and curious about the new food. She created healthy pizzas, a lower-calorie burger and a spinach and walnut salad. After the introduction of the new items during the school day, 9% more students purchased healthy meals and they ate 16% more of the vegetable side dishes.*
WHY THIS MATTERS
Schools should ensure that foods being offered to students are of a high nutritional quality to enable students to learn about and sustain healthy eating habits. Culinary professionals can offer new ideas for preparing tasty dishes that include vegetables and fruit.
Schools should ensure that foods being offered to students are of a high nutritional quality to enable students to learn about and sustain healthy eating habits. Culinary professionals can offer new ideas for preparing tasty dishes that include vegetables and fruit. With schools offering more fruit and vegetables on menus than ever before, be sure to support healthy eating at home as well.
4 Ways to Develop a Culture of Health in Your Family
- Tune in and unleash your child’s inner chef! Watch a Food Network show with your child as a springboard for creating your own healthy dinner.
- Shop together. It can be a challenge to bring kids to the grocery store – there are no two ways about it! However, occasionally shopping together provides an excellent platform for children to ask questions and shape healthy decision making skills.
- Create meals as a team. If you need inspiration, our website offers many kid-inspired recipes.
- You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: check out our list of programs that teach kids about healthy eating.
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