New School Cuisine finds its way to the White House
While visiting school kitchens around the state, representatives from the School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT) and Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED, a program of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms) took note of the delicious offerings being served to Vermont schoolchildren by talented school nutrition professionals. How could they share these ideas, techniques, and recipes with other school food service? New School Cuisine: Nutritious and Seasonal Recipes for School Cooks by School Cooks is the result of their wondering, fundraising, and collaborating. With support from a USDA Team Nutrition grant, SNA-VT and VT FEED together with the Vermont Agency of Education began a year-long culinary adventure. Fourteen school chefs were invited to submit innovative cafeteria creations and worked closely with professional recipe developers and testers to learn how to modify and standardize their recipes. Each recipe underwent thorough testing—by the school chefs in their own cafeterias and students at the New England Culinary Institute. Called “groundbreaking” by Ann Cooper, a powerful voice for school food reform, New School Cuisine is the only cookbook created by school nutrition professionals that meets the 2012 USDA guidelines, is kid-tested, and features farm-fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. The cookbook, available as a free download from VT FEED and for purchase through the Shelburne Farms online store, is being put to use in schools across the country, at last count in 25 states. And now, thanks to Senator Patrick Leahy, it’s in the hands of Sam Kass, President Barack Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy and Let’s Move Executive Director. Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Senator Leahy sent with the cookbook: “New School Cuisine represents Vermont’s commitment to transforming school meal programs by offering healthy and nutritious options that still taste good. By educating students about the local food found in their cafeteria, Vermonters not only gain an understanding about the origin of each ingredient, but they also cultivate a relationship with their local farmers and greater agricultural community. As nationwide problems such as obesity and malnutrition continue to rise, school cafeterias struggle to find options that are both healthy and delicious for children who rely on school meal programs. New School Cuisine offers school cafeterias recipes that prioritize the health and wellbeing of students, while educating them about the importance of where their food comes from.” By sharing this first-of-its-kind resource with the White House Senator Leahy is providing Mr. Kass and First Lady Michelle Obama with a powerful tool they can use to advance their mission of changing the way we feed children across the country. We hope they will come to regard it as a valuable resource in their work toward improving the health of our nation’s youth.