Yesterday IACP members Dan Traster, Judy Rusignuolo and I and a room full of Washington, D.C., culinary professionals attended a Chefs Move to Schools meeting sponsored by the National Restaurant Association DC chapter's educational foundation and Share Our Strength. The first speaker was everyone's favorite, White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass. He gave a pep talk and then asked for questions.
I brought up research that came out last week from the Edible Schoolyard. It said that children who had been in the Edible Schoolyard program in elementary school did not eat more vegetables in middle school. In fact, they ate less veggies than when they had been in the Edible Schoolyard program. Kass said the results meant that children and youth need to be supported at every step as they develop.
We can support young people in school all we like, I replied, but if we don't involve the families, the youth will experience cognitive dissonance when they are eating at home. My suggestion: Bring together the first two pillars of the Let's Move campaign against childhood obesity with youth/parent partner cooking classes.
One pillar seeks to give parents the information they need to provide healthy meals for their families. The second is to improve school food. (The third pillar is a goal of sixty minutes a day of physical activity, and the fourth is to eliminate food deserts.)
Interestingly, of the twelve speakers who followed, three of them commented on the importance of family participation. They mentioned ways they are helping families in their healthy eating programs. For instance, Share Our Strength's Operation Frontline has a curriculum in use for youth/parent cooking classes. Many chefs who are adopting a school are considering teaching cooking classes as a way to share their expertise.