NC School Nutrition Professionals Participate in Innovative K-12 Culinary Institute

School nutrition administrators from across the state are participating in a K-12 Culinary Institute kick-off workshop today and tomorrow at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Professional Standards Training Grant received by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition Services is funding the institute, which is designed to increase the availability of fresh, appealing, nutritious meals at school,

“Nutrient-rich food means that students are getting what they need to be able to focus in the classroom. The K-12 Culinary Institute provides tools and information that may be taken back and implemented in school kitchens to enhance the learning environment,” said NCDPI School Nutrition Services Section Chief Lynn Harvey.

The face-to-face and online institute was developed by School Nutrition Services staff, and nationally-accomplished Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team, in order to meet five core objectives:

  •  improve student health, well-being and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school;
  • increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition programs;
  • expand capacity of local school nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally-grown produce;
  • increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods; and
  • provide continuing education opportunities for school nutrition personnel.

The menus and recipes developed for the K-12 Culinary Institute include:

  • scratch, convenience, and modified scratch products and techniques;
  • instructions written for production amounts consistent with pack or pan sizes commonly available in school kitchens; and
  • nutritional analysis files for easy import into software programs and adjustments for standardization in local school districts.

Instructional segments are planned for topics such as knife skills, weighing and measuring accurately, preparing foods for just-in-time service, work simplification and scheduling, effective use of equipment, and quality food preparation and service for a variety of meats, grains, fruits, vegetables and condiments. The K-12 Culinary Institute graduates will be chef ambassadors and culinary specialists. These ambassadors will be prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals at the local district/school level.

Following the May 24-25 kick-off, school nutrition managers will have the opportunity to participate in regional workshops this summer. The series of workshops will continue during the summer of 2017.

NCDPI School Nutrition Services is the state agency administering the USDA School Breakfast Program, National School Lunch Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Special Milk Program, After School Snack Program, Seamless Summer Option, and Summer Food Service Program in North Carolina. Additional information regarding school nutrition programs in North Carolina is available online