Chartwells Launches Healthy School Meals Program

Chartwells School Dining Services, a division of Compass Group North America, continues to build on the momentum started by Michelle Obama's "Chefs Move to Schools" campaign with the introduction of their Chefs 2 School Program.

The "Chefs Move to Schools" program, run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, paired chefs with schools to create healthy meals that meet dietary guidelines and budgets, while teaching young people about nutrition and making balanced and healthy choices. Chartwells School Dining Services continues to build on this momentum with the introduction of their Chefs 2 School Program.

Leveraging the First Lady's concept that chefs have a unique ability to deliver healthy nutrition messages in a fun and appealing way to children by creating healthy dishes that taste good, Chartwells' Chefs 2 Schools Program was launched during a cooking demonstration on March 16 at Steele Middle School in Muskegon, Mich. This was the third live cooking demo that Chartwells conducted in the district this month. Demos were also held at Muskegon High School on March 9th, with the assistance of Guest Chef George Siedis (Mona Shores Public Schools), and at Bunker Middle School on March 10th, with the assistance of Chef Scott Larson (Wyoming Public Schools).

Guest chef Jennifer Brower, Executive Regional Chef in Chartwells' Great Lakes Region, along with Chef Siedis, provided the cooking demonstration to enthusiastic children and onlookers at Steele. One curious 8th grade student commented, "It was so much fun to help the chef cook the veggies!"

Under the program premise, guest chefs 'adopt' a local school district. They make occasional planned visits to designated schools, for the purpose of creating a focus on healthy meals and helping to educate students about sound eating habits and food preparation. The host school welcomes the chef and shares ideas on how the Chef can assist them at the district. Guest chefs can then interact with the host school in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Planning and preparing a healthy meal that meets the necessary standards to be featured on the school menu
  • Providing food demonstrations which feature recipes and foods that highlight local produce and good nutrition, such as whole grains, fruits, salads, vegetables and dips
  • Hosting an exhibition cooking demonstration or classroom visits

The program allows for future adaptation to incorporate food promotional or nutritional classrooms activities, local farm event, hands-on cooking classes, family food and fun night, student council, wellness or youth advisory committees. "It was a great experience for the kids to see the flavors being blended together live," said Tom Lopez, Student Specialist for Steele Middle School.

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