NEWTON GROVE — At a school in Sampson County, a groups of chefs became excited about learning new ways to provide healthy meals to students.
Hobbton Middle School hosted a North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute during the week. The purpose of the regional workshop is to enhance nutrition offerings. It concluded on Thursday when graduates became chef ambassadors prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals in their districts. In addition to Sampson County Schools, participants represented Clinton City Schools, Cumberland County, Duplin County, Brunswick County, Lenoir County and Ft. Bragg school districts. Nutrition representatives from Falcon Children’s Home also joined the institute.
April Jordan, director of school nutrition for Sampson County Schools, said everyone cares about the health and well-being of students.
“The K-12 Culinary Institute is one step that we are taking to equip our school nutrition professionals for their important roles in the schools,” Jordan said.
Instruction was provided by Chefs Kelly Waldron and Lydia West. Funding was provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture Professional Standards Training Grant, which was received by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).
The program was developed by the NCDPI’s School Nutrition Section and Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team. Story is a certified chef and registered dietitian with many years of experience of a school food service director, consultant and trainer.
The five objectives are are to improve student health, well-being and academic through nutritious, appealing meals at school; increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition program; expand capacity of local nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally grown produce; increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods; and provide continuing education opportunities for school personnel.
During the week-long institute learned recipes for unique and nutritious meals such as Sweet Taco Taters, Fire Zucchini Sticks, Kale Pesto Sandwiches and Tropical Apples. Some of the instructional segments also covered skills for cutting, weighing, measuring, preparing foods for the right time of service and scheduling. The participants also learned about the effective use of equipment and quality food preparation for different meats, grains, fruits, vegetables and condiments.