Posted Date: 09/26/2022
Local school nutrition professionals earn a chance to work with trained chef.
By Leilana McKindra
STILLWATER, Okla. – McAlester Public School’s nutrition professionals will team up with a trained chef this semester to cook up fresher, tastier cafeteria offerings and whip up a sweeter overall dining experience.
Through Cooking for Kids, an innovative culinary training program designed to change the school nutrition landscape across Oklahoma, consulting chefs will partner with the district to identify key needs and develop an action plan tailored to meet those needs.
The consulting chef will focus specifically on menu development and procurement, equipment and work schedules as well as effective marketing strategies.
“This is a great opportunity for our school district to work with a trained chef to enhance not only the meals we serve, but also the services we provide to our students,” said Dana Parker, Child Nutrition Director.
The district earned a chance to apply for a chef consultation after nutrition professionals from schools throughout the district participated in regional training sessions offered this summer through the Cooking for Kids program.
During those regional training sessions, school nutrition professionals learned creative, new ways to prepare healthy, balanced, flavorful meals. They also began working with revamped menus featuring more scratch cooking.
“There’s no doubt school nutrition professionals are as committed as anyone to our students,” said Deana Hildebrand, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist and project lead for Cooking for Kids. “These school districts are proving how serious they are about that commitment by taking advantage of the chance to partner with a chef to enhance their school meal program.”
The Cooking for Kids culinary training program is a partnership between the College of Education and Human Sciences at Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma State Department of Education Child Nutrition funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The initiative is designed to increase the availability of freshly prepared foods, boost student participation in the school meal program and expand public support for child nutrition programs. Participation in the program is free and open to all schools in the state.
For more information, visit www.CookingforKids.ok.gov.
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