Meet Your Inner Chef
Find exciting ways to get students, staff and community members involved in helping to support your healthy school environment. Work with local restaurants to find chefs who can volunteer their time to help get kids interested — and spice things up — in your school meals program! To find chefs who may already be signed up to partner with schools in your area, use this Find a Chef tool.
How Does It Work?
The Chefs Move to School program partners with schools in three ways: in the classroom, in the cafeteria and through culinary training/demos. Perhaps there are local chefs in your area who would like to work with your school through that program or independently.
The following steps are suggestions for how to complete the Play — but they can be done in any order or combination and can be altered to fit your needs. If you find ways to adapt this Play to fit your school, share it with us through the Tips section!
Arrange a meeting between your team, school nutrition director/supervisor and school nutrition professionals to help develop a vision for your efforts. Consider ways in which a chef partner might help invigorate the staff and students around healthy eating.
Visit the Chefs Move to Schools Find a Chef tool or explore your local area to see if there are chefs out there who want to join your team.
Host an assembly and invite a chef from your community to talk about the work they do to produce appealing, nutrient-rich restaurant dishes. Create a slide show to highlight some of the dishes being presented.
- Host an "Inner Chef” snack table during the assembly, and then regularly in the cafeteria, where students can work with chefs (and your school nutrition staff) to taste the foods the chef presents and to help create new dishes that incorporate nutrient-rich foods from the five food groups in ways students may not have tried before.
- Hold taste tests of the new dishes to see which ones students prefer and then work with the school nutrition team to have favorites added to the school menu.
Invite your chef partner or partners to join your team and work with them to help the chef(s) understand the challenges of creating nutrient-rich meals on a school budget. See the resources below for examples of chefs working within school budgets; work with the chefs and school nutrition professionals before and after your activities to ensure that new choices fulfill school meals program guidelines.
- Invite a local chef to help plan a school herb garden to grow herbs, spices and fresh vegetables that can be used in new meal creations. Include the harvested selections in your ongoing taste tests.
- Use some of the Recipes for Success from Let's Move! to build an ongoing relationship between your school and your chef partner(s).
- Consider also inviting a registered dietitian to help with the nutritional value of the dishes. Dietitians can be very helpful in teaming with your school nutrition staff. Your school or district should have someone who can help, or you can contact your local Dairy Council. Go to the Dairy Council Directory on the National Dairy Council website, locate the phone number for your state or regional Dairy Council and contact the Dairy Promotion Office.
Keep It Going
As you work with the chef(s), school nutrition professionals and registered dietitians to come up with healthy new meal selections, consider developing a Fuel Up to Play 60 school cookbook to share your creations with the community. See the Recipe Contest Play and Fuel Up to Play 60's own Beyond PB&J: Cooking with Kids for ideas.
Spread the Word
Promote the new meal additions by creating special names for the meals and highlighting them with posters, signs and information placards in the meal service line.
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help:
- Identify local chefs who can talk about their work and invite them to visit the school
- Create slide shows highlighting the various dishes that local chefs come to prepare/present
- Volunteer to help with the “Inner Chef” snack table and hold taste tests
- Plant and maintain the herb and vegetable garden
- Promote your visiting chef program and highlight partnerships being developed at your school
- Inform parents about the program and encourage them to try cooking nutritious meals together with their children and volunteer to assist with activities at school