Schools across the East participate in culinary institute

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT)–Schools across the East are participating in culinary institutes this summer. The regional NC K-12 Culinary Institute Workshop is meant to increase the availability of fresh, appealing and nutritious meals at school.

That means meeting USDA nutrition guidelines like offering fruit and vegetables daily and preparing meals using food products with zero grams of trans fat.

“In these workshops, we incorporate all of those meal components and showcase some new ideas for offering them like new recipes or new cooking techniques,” Susan Thompson, with NCDPI School Nutrition Services, said. “Maybe something like blanching so fresh vegetables are more appealing to students.”

Chef ambassadors from the 23 schools are responsible for bringing back the new recipes and techniques to their schools for the upcoming year. They spent Wednesday preparing 16 different dishes like a sweet Thai chicken bowl and Pico cups all while learning skills like roasting and blanching.

The training comes after the U.S. Secretary Of Agriculture announced the Trump Administration will be relaxing parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act implemented by President Obama.

Under the act, schools are required to meet nutrition guidelines like offering fruit and vegetables daily and preparing meals using food products with zero grams of trans fat.

The relaxed rules give schools until the year 2020 to meet the act’s sodium intake and whole grain rules.

Onslow County Schools says students won’t notice a difference on their lunch trays this fall.

“We’re absolutely still meeting those guidelines,” Emily Soape, OCS nutritionist, said. “We still have reduced fat, whole grains, and reduced sodium. The only thing is we’re not moving forward on those more restrictive guidelines like taking the sodium level to the next target just yet.”

The school system is also looking to introduce more diverse foods next year.

“We do have a diverse population here in Onslow County,” Soape said “The military brings in people from all over who are used to seeing foods from more than just right here. We’re definitely bringing in more ethnic dishes and maybe foods the kids have never seen before.”

Training continues this week with the chef ambassadors learning more about knife skills and proper weighing techniques.

Onslow County Schools are also offering free summer lunch for kids from July 5 until August 3. Click here for more information.

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