The School Behind the Lunch Line

RFFK Chef Academy Trains School Staff to Prep
Fresh Foods

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During three, week-long sessions this past summer and early fall, more than 100 kitchen managers participated in the Real Food for Kids’ Chef Academy program at Willowsford in Ashburn, Virginia. The academy, funded through a $30k grant from the Life Time Foundation, is designed to help school cafeteria staff learn how to best prepare fresh-from-the-farm ingredients that now play a more significant role in their breakfast and lunch menus, reducing the number of processed foods that have been traditionally served.

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In partnership with Real Food for Kids, Bonnie Moore, Willowsford Culinary Director and RFFK board member, developed the Chef Academy along with Dr. Becky Bays, Director of Loudoun County Public School’s School Nutrition Services. Including this class, the program has reached nearly 400 school culinary staff members. The course includes hands-on sessions in creating salad dressings, spice blends and soups, as well as knife skills and recipe development. One salad dressing has been such a success with staff members that it will be used in place of packaged varieties this coming winter in all Loudoun County Public School cafeterias.

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The Life Time Foundation, a non-profit created by Life Time Fitness, is devoted to helping schools eliminate seven harmful ingredients, including trans fats and artificial additives, from the foods they serve.  “Since 2010 we’ve been working hard to remove highly processed and artificial ingredients from school food menus,” says Barbara Koch, Executive Director, Life Time Foundation. “We see great alignment working with the Real Food for Kids’ culinary education program to train cafeteria staff to prepare school food using fresh, wholesome ingredients and nourish our children’s bodies and minds. Ultimately, said Koch, the foundation is excited that the work done over the three weeks at Willowsford with school staff will affect over a quarter million students this year, directly impacting their health and well-being.

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The Chef Academy is part of Real Food for Kids’ Healthy Habits initiative which works with public schools to help students learn about the importance of eating whole foods, limiting highly processed foods in their diets and incorporating healthful activity into their daily lives.

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