CULINARY STUDENTS ASSIST HIGH SCHOOL’S LUNCH PROGRAM
Culinary students at McCracken County High School in Kentucky recently assisted the meal program in making choices for the school menu.
McCracken County High School in Kentucky found a great way to tap into what students like to eat when it had its culinary class join the foodservice team at a food show to try out new items available for the program to order for the schools and voice their opinion on what they liked. FM approached McCracken County Director of Food Services Cathy Lewis with three questions about the initiative… Local news story on the initiative complete with a video segment *(the report mistakenly suggests that the culinary students served students in the cafeteria—they did not). FM: Where did the idea come from and how many culinary students were involved? Lewis: “As a new director, coming from the restaurant world, I understand the importance of menu development and the difference in taste among youth vs adults. When the opportunity was given to allow us to bring students to a local food show, I decided that would be a great way to see what items the kids really preferred vs just our staff. The advanced culinary class at our high school seemed like a group of kids that would be perfect. Plus, as students that are interested in the culinary world, they would also benefit from seeing what all takes place in menu development in a real-world scenario. The food show introduced us to the possibility of working together with those students in a mutually beneficial relationship.” FM: What were some of the dishes created? Lewis: “While at the food show some of the students found items that were already available that they wanted to see in their cafeteria. Those items were things like Yang’s Orange Chicken and Chef One (L) The students learned about what it takes to create a k-12 approved recipe. (R) The culinary class that was involved in this program with us (about a dozen students) enjoyed the benefit of seeing in real life what menu development looks like.
Chicken and Vegetable Dumplings. But we wanted to take that one step further and have the culinary class help develop a new recipe. The students learned about what it takes to create a k-12 approved recipe and began work with us on developing a new recipe, Basil Pesto Pierogies with Chicken.” FM: What are some of the major benefits of this program to the culinary students involved, the other students at the high school who were served the dishes and the district’s school meal program? Lewis: “The culinary class that was involved in this program with us (about a dozen students) enjoyed the benefit of seeing in real life what menu development looks like. They gained the understanding of what types of regulations must be followed for school cafeterias and how they can be followed while still maintaining an appealing taste in the food. They also enjoyed the benefits of actually tasting some foods that were available and being allowed to choose which they enjoyed and wanted to see. These culinary students
also took pride in knowing they had a hand in changes made to the high school menu that other students very openly enjoyed. The other students at the high school, as well as other schools in the district now have the opportunity to try and enjoy menu items that fellow students worked on or picked out.”
The students worked with the foodservice staff on developing a new recipe, Basil Pesto Pierogies with Chicken.
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