Every year, the Cooking up Change® contest from the Healthy Schools Campaign allows high school students from low-income schools the opportunity to transform their school lunch menu, develop valuable culinary arts skills and become leaders in school food reform. The Orange County event is coordinated locally through Kid Healthy, a non-profit founded in 2003 with a mission to address health and wellness by engaging school children and families in undeserved families in Southern California. With partners across the country, Cooking Up Change® encourages and empowers students to seek a secondary education in the culinary arts or nutrition sciences. Each team of three student chefs is challenged to create a new lunch menu following a strict set of criteria including:
In Orange County, CA, nine teams competed in the challenge, presenting their meal to an esteemed panel of judges. The winning team then travels to Washington, DC to compete against teams from Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix and Oakland, CA.
This year, La Habra High School placed first with their Indian-Mexican inspired menu of Chicken Kashmir, Pepino Curry and Tropical Kheer (pictured at right). Seniors Isabella Moreno, Yazmin Marquez and Carlos Marquez will now compete in the Cooking up Change national finals, held at the Department of Education in Washington, DC, on June 12th.
An excellent showing was also prepared by Valley High School in Santa Ana with Caribbean Chicken over Cucayco (left) and California High School in Whittier placed third and was awarded Best Table Presentation.
Congratulations to all the Orange County winners and kudos to all California students who participated in the 2017 Cooking Up Change® competition.
It's Teacher Appreciation Week! And while five week days alone cannot contain the appreciation and esteem we have for educators everywhere, we feel it's very important to give teachers their due.
As a nutrition education organization, Dairy Council of California holds in particularly high esteem those educators who draw upon their personal passion and conviction to share messages of healthy eating and physical activity in their classrooms. Each year, we partner with the Southern California School Nutrition Association and Buena Vista Foods to sponsor the Eat Smart 2 Be Smart Outstanding Nutrition Educator contest. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we are delighted to share the stories of this year's winning educators with you.
Ms. Diana Dababneh, a pre-school teacher at John F. Land School in Westminster incorporates food literacy in her classroom. Her lesson submission for the contest included reading the book, “I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato” by Lauren Child. Students discussed the fruits and vegetables they have at home and drew images of their favorite fruits and vegetables from the book.
Ms. Dababneh then provided a hands-on activity where students touched and smelled fruits and vegetables from her garden. She says, “If they don’t experience a garden, they have no idea how things grow. Give them the experience so they can see, smell and taste. Give them a visual of real fruits and vegetables.”
In addition, Ms. Dababneh created a mock food market in the classroom, enabling students to pretend to shop for fruits and vegetables. The lesson plan integrated many academic concepts including language and literacy, dramatic play, art, science, reasoning and analysis. Dababneh states, “As they learn in class, they will begin to ask their parents for a variety of produce.”
Lastly, she and her students begin each day with morning exercises indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather, thereby modeling both healthy food and lifestyle choices for the preschool students. Ms. Beverlee Mathenia, Executive director of Early Education & Expanded Learning for Westminster School District says, “Diana is a true role model for her peers and is dedicated to helping her students to see the importance of healthy eating and being active.”
Mrs. Kat Clark, 6th grade teacher at Stauffer Middle School in Downey, CA who teaches a 6-week exploratory foods class to 6th grade students. The objective of her contest submission was for students to explore healthy eating options by interpreting ingredient lists and the Nutrition Facts label on food packages. Students used the Nutrition Detectives curriculum, developed by David Katz, MD, to review food labels and determine which foods were nutritious choices.
With this new knowledge, the students developed Food Rules for Eating Healthy: Eat from the Earth; Choose Whole Grains; Eat More Fiber -- especially fruits and vegetables; Choose Snacks with a Short Ingredient List; and Rethink Your Drink.
With the support of Mrs. Clark’s 7th and 8th grade classes and the Garden Club, students created a movie that is periodically aired on the campus TV station reinforcing healthy eating habits for all students on campus.
The Eat Smart 2 Be Smart Nutrition Educator contest is to recognizes teachers for their dedication and commitment to improving the health of students by educating and empowering children to choose nutritious food and be active daily. Teachers are in a unique position to help students make the connection between learning about nutritious foods in the classroom and then choosing those foods in the cafeteria. Through hands-on, experiential learning, students become excited and motivated to try new foods and make nutritious choices. Sharing these innovative stories about teaching nutrition in the classroom helps motivate and empower other teachers.
The Nutrition Educator Award is just one way the Eat Smart 2 Be Smart committee is achieving their goal of recognizing the positive contributions being made by teachers to support school meal programs through nutrition education. Dababneh (left) and Clark’s (with flowers at right) stories and related videos, are housed on the website created to provide valuable resources for students, teachers, parents and its members.
Congratulations again Diana Dababneh and Kat Clark for going the extra mile to connect learning to life in your classrooms with nutrition education. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to you and all the educators who enrich our children's lives.
After months of cold temperatures and precipitation, May arrives like a long lost friend. Celebrate Mom and many food observances with featured family meals that include all five food groups. Wrap up the month in anticipation of World Milk Day on June 1.
Please note that June will be the last month of monthly meal ideas, as the Family Meals Matter column comes to an end on July 1. Rest assured that you and your family can continue to enjoy nutritious family meals with foods from all five food groups with more recipes on HealthyEating.org.
May Family Meal Recipes
Charred Summer Salad with Crunchy Baked Tilapia with Mango Salsa and Basic Rice; plus Blue Cheese and Dried Cherry Meatloaf, Cucumber and Tomato Tangy Yogurt Salad, Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad and Quinoa Salad with Apples and Kale.
Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers, ABCT Salad and Roasted Peach Sundaes; plus Chicken Pasta Salad with Blueberries, Baked Parmesan Tomatoes, Chicken with Oranges and Avocados and Grilled Fruit.
Broccoli Beef and Potato Hot Dish, Cornmeal Drop Biscuits and Apples and Cream Shake; plus New England Clam Chowder, Squash + Leek Lasagna, Roasted Bananas with Chocolate Yogurt Cream and Brown Rice with Milk.
Every two years, the California Farm to School and Garden Conference, California Farm to School Network and California Alliance With Family Farmers, connects food service directors, advocates and garden coordinators with resources for accessing locally grown foods and food literacy. The most recent conference was held this past March in Modesto, part of the the Central Valley where half of the fruits and vegetables in the United States are grown.
This year, Dairy Council of California kicked off the conference by sponsoring a "Center of the Plate" Meat and Dairy tour for 20 participants. This tour was designed to highlight how protein and dairy foods are produced and can be locally sourced by California schools. Participants experienced "behind the scenes" tours of a Foster Farms chicken production facility, Hilmar Cheese Company and Clauss Dairy Farm with lunch on Turlock Unified School District’s 10 acre school farm.
Turlock Unified School District excels in putting #CAonyMyPlate, with 90-95 percent of the protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy in the school meal program sourced locally in California. Fun ag facts learned along the way include Foster Farms' processing capacity of 11 million pounds of chicken per week; Hilmar Cheese Company's extensive water recycling program and the 340 cows per hour capacity of Clauss Dairy Farm's rotary milker.
All those who attended the Center of the Plate Meat and Dairy Tour left with a greater appreciation of the work needed to bring California dairy products and proteins from the farm to the plate, giving #CAonMyPlate a whole new meaning. Dairy Council of California is proud to support the Farm to School Movement to help connect the California food system with schools and school cafeterias.
Spring has sprung! April is a fantastic time to enjoy seasonal produce and a variety of food holidays. Kick the month off right by celebrating National Public Health Week and World Health day, then find healthy ways to use up Easter feast leftovers. Boost your immune system by celebrating the antioxidant properties of garlic and opt for the comfort of grilled cheese and tomato soup when April showers keep you indoors.
Enjoy nutritious family meals with foods from all five food groups with more recipes on HealthyEating.org.
April Family Meal Recipes
Carrot Salad With California Dried Plum with Lamb Cooked in Milk with Rice and Tabbouleh Salad; plus Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Fava Bean Cake With Diced Red Peppers and Yogurt, Tandoori Chicken and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Ouzo Poached Figs.
Red, White and Green Grilled Cheese, Fresh Tomato Soup Au Gratin and Honey Baked Bananas; plus Southwestern Cheese Panini, Grilled Pesto Sandwiches, Colorful Green Salad and Dessert Waldorf Salad with Roquefort.
This program, brought to you by Dairy Council of California, aligns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
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