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Culinary Associations Join in School Meal Pilot Initiative

Four of the nation’s leading chefs associations have teamed with Orange County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services (OCPS FNS) to pilot a unique partnership designed to develop some healthy dining strategies for schools nationwide. Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, OCPS is joining with the International Corporate Chefs Association (ICCA), the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the Research Chef Association (RCA), and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), as well as the School Nutrition Association (SNA), to produce new nutrition education programs, student-friendly healthful recipes and training manuals for school food service staff.

"This is the first time in history that the chefs’ associations of our nation have come together for a common cause," says Kevin Ryan, ICCA's executive director. "First Lady Michelle Obama's Chefs Move to Schools initiative has attracted some of the most talented chefs in the nation to help curb childhood obesity. Our pilot program with Orange County Public Schools will help to blaze a path for other school districts to follow.

"Designed to reach all Orange County students, the initiative will seek to develop a model for chefs who want to work with schools in promoting healthy choices to children. The SNA and the culinary organizations will work to use this model to spread the Chefs Move to Schools initiative to other school districts nationally.

OCPS FNS selected 15 schools to participate in the program, and the culinary associations invited 15 chefs to partner with the school food service managers in each school. These teams are working together to identify ways to improve operations, food presentation and menu choices. The chefs have made at least two brainstorming visits to their assigned schools to work with the school’s food service managers on the potential impact of helping kids make healthier choices on the foods they eat every day.

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