School Nutrition administrators from across the state, including Surry County School Nutrition Director Sherri Parks, participated in a North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute April 5 – 6 at West Smithfield Elementary School in Johnston County.
The institute, designed to increase the availability of fresh, appealing, nutritious meals at school, is funded in part by U.S. Department of Agriculture grants received by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction,, School Nutrition.
“Nutrient rich food means that students are getting what they need to be able to focus in the classroom. The North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute provides tools and success strategies that may be implemented in school meals to enhance the learning environment,” said Dr. Lynn Harvey, school nutrition chief for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
“The K12 Culinary Institute is a great opportunity to elevate local School Nutrition programs and to refocus management efforts for effective, efficient and successful operations” Parks said Sherri Parks.
The face-to-face and online institute was developed by the North Carolina department and nationally accomplished Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team, in order to meet five core objectives:
– Improve student health, well-being and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school;
– Increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition programs;
– Expand capacity of local school nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally grown produce;
– Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods;
– Provide continuing education opportunities for school nutrition personnel.
The menus and recipes developed for the N.C. K-12 Culinary Institute include:
– Scratch, convenience, and modified scratch products and techniques;
– Instructions written for production amounts consistent with pack or pan sizes commonly available in school kitchens;
– Nutritional analysis files for easy import into software programs and adjustments for standardization in local education agencies.
Planned instructional segments include topics such as knife skills, weighing and measuring accurately, preparing foods for just-in-time service, work simplification and scheduling, effective use of equipment, quality food preparation and service for a variety of meats, grains, fruits, vegetables, and condiments, and preparation of nutritious meals that appeal to students.
The school nutrition administrators completing the N.C. K-12 Culinary Institute will support the school level chef participants who are taught similar skills during the summer. These participants will be prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals at the LEA/school level.