Making school lunch choices healthier, one training at a time
OKLAHOMA CITY (March 30, 2017) — Remember pizza day in the school cafeteria? Fast forward to 2017: How does Asian beef stir fry sound? If you ask students at Okmulgee High School, they’ll tell you it’s amazing. What’s the secret behind this new crowd favorite? Her name is Valarie Carter, and she’s one of several Cooking for Kids chefs.
“We go in and train and retrain staff in kitchens at public schools all over Oklahoma,” said Carter.
Cooking for Kids is the brainchild of the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition. The program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thanks to a contract with the Oklahoma State University Extension Division, schools are learning to cook healthier.
“When we first heard about it, I was a little nervous, “ said Okmulgee High School kitchen manager Billie Boudinot. “I have never worked with a chef before. But Valarie has made it very fun and relaxing and not stressful at all.”
Okmulgee was one of several districts to take part in the Cooking for Kids summer training session. Twenty-six schools were later chosen to have a chef come to their cafeteria throughout the school year. The results have been delicious.
Summer training dates: June 13-15, 20-22, July 18-20, 25-27
The training program started in 2014.
As of the 2016-2017 school year:
• 576 school nutrition professionals have attended the summer skill development training
• 142 schools districts have been represented
• 30 school districts have participated in the one-year, comprehensive chef consultation program