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ECPS Child Nutrition Manager Participates in K-12 Culinary Institute

The N.C. K-12 Culinary Institute, designed to enhance nutrition offerings, is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Professional Standards Training Grant received by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition Section.

“The K-12 Culinary Institute is a unique opportunity for our school nutrition professionals to enhance culinary skills and glean tools and information critical to their important roles in providing quality, nutritious school meals,” said Ruth McDowell, Child Nutrition Director for Edgecombe County Public Schools.

The face to face and virtual institute was developed by the NCDPI, School Nutrition Section, and Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team, in order to meet five core objectives:

  • Improve student health, well-being and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school,
  • Increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition programs,
  • Expand capacity of local school nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally grown produce,
  • Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods, and
  • Provide continuing education opportunities for school nutrition personnel.

The menus and recipes developed for the K-12 Culinary Institute include:

  • Scratch, convenience, and modified scratch products and techniques,
  • Instructions written for production amounts consistent with pack or pan sizes commonly available in school kitchens, and
  • Nutritional analysis files for easy import into software programs and adjustments for standardization in Local Education Agencies (LEAs).

Planned instructional segments include topics such as knife skills, weighing and measuring accurately, preparing foods for just-in-time service, work simplification and scheduling, effective use of equipment, and quality food preparation and service for a variety of meats, grains, fruits, vegetables, and condiments.

North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute graduates become chef ambassadors prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals at the Local Education Agency/school level.

“As a result of Ms. Johnson’s dedication to implementing the techniques from the Institute in her cafeteria, she was chosen to be a part of the panel discussion at the No Kid Hungry conference. She talked about the positive impact on students at her school as a result of having implemented techniques from the culinary institute. Ms. Johnson is proud to be a Chef Ambassador and looks forward to continuing to introduce new recipes to the students,” added McDowell.