The Idaho Department of Education (DOE) has worked with a chef/dietitian to create a cookbook of healthy recipes for school foodservice directors to use. “Chef Designed School Lunch” was launched in April and presented at the School Nutrition Association’s conference in Kansas City in July.
According to Colleen Fillmore, Ph.D., director of child nutrition programs for the DOE, the book was an outgrowth of a program begun by the department last year. The program, called Chef Tuesdays, brought Chef Brenda Thompson, R.D., to Liberty Charter School in Nampa, where Thompson worked with foodservice employees to develop and taste test healthy recipes.
“The recipes went over very well with the students we tested,” Fillmore says. “We were able to secure a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to turn those recipes into a cookbook that has been made available to all school districts in the state.”
The 54-page oversize booklet contains 10 recipes, such as Cheeseburger Salad Wrap, Thai Chicken and Basil Barley, Mozzarella Crusted Pollock and Mandarin Chicken Rice Bowl. Each menu section offers not only the recipe and a photo but also nutritional information, how students rated each item and what they said about the item. Fillmore notes that the recipes are also designed to make the best use of a wide variety of USDA foods. She says that each recipe uses of four to nine USDA foods, and the 10 recipes provide school districts with a two-week cycle menu.
“Working with the schools was a really great experience for me,” says Thompson, who has worked with three other Idaho districts—Kamiah, McCall-Donnelly and Preston—in a similar fashion as part of the program. “The kids are so honest. They tell you exactly what they think and that’s refreshing. I learned a lot and I think the kids really enjoyed being part of the development process.”