This summer, approximately 400 school nutrition professionals from about 80 schools took advantage of regional training sessions offered at six sites statewide as part of the Cooking for Kids culinary training program.

“School meals have trended like our home meals with more fast food and convenience foods. Not only have our households lost cooking skills, our school nutrition professionals have, too,” said Deana Hildebrand, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist. “Before we can expect our school nutrition professionals to prepare healthier food for our students and use more scratch cooking, we have to give them the skills. That’s what the regional trainings are designed to do.”

Level 1 of the regional trainings covered topics such as food safety and developing taste preferences for fruits and vegetables, while Level 2 addressed topics such promoting the cafeteria to students and building flavor without added sugar, fat and salt.

Beginning in 2016, schools with staff who have completed both levels of the regional training will be eligible for one-on-one consultations with a chef, who will work with schools on menus, creating marketing plans and other areas of development.

Cooking for Kids is rounding out the second year in a five-year partnership between the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and Oklahoma State Department of Education funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The program was developed to help schools in Oklahoma implement revised nutritional requirements for school breakfasts and lunches as a result of the 2010 Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act. Two long-term goals of the federal law are to reduce childhood hunger and address childhood obesity.

For some children, and especially those who are both food insecure and obese, school meals may be their primary source of nutrition, Hildebrand said. That means school meals need to be nutritious and taste good to children.

“Research shows partnering with chefs is a good way to change menus so they’re healthy and appealing to kids. We want to increase the number of kids eating in the cafeteria because it’s a low cost source of a healthy meal,” she said.

Extension and the Oklahoma State Department of Education collaborated with three lead chefs to develop the Cooking with Kids culinary curriculum.

Participation in the program, including the training and chef consultations, is free and open to all schools in Oklahoma.

“What makes Cooking for Kids so unique is that it’s open for all schools, including smaller school districts that may not be able to hire a corporate chef,” Hildebrand said. “The nutrition professionals who have participated in the training are excited about their new skills and they’re anxious to apply what they’re learning in the cafeteria.”

###

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Leilana McKindra
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
140 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-6792
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Read more http://www.dasnr.okstate.edu/Members/leilana.mckindra-40okstate.edu/fresher-tastier-choices-coming-to-school-cafeterias-this-fall

AdministratorOSU Extension Newsand,of,the,to,withThis summer, approximately 400 school nutrition professionals from about 80 schools took advantage of regional training sessions offered at six sites statewide as part of the Cooking for Kids culinary training program. “School meals have trended...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma