It was a pleasure to learn about Dr. D’Aun Carrell’s career-long commitment to children’s nutrition. Even more so to discover her involvement with Chefs Move to Schools, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s www.LetsMove.gov campaign to help solve the problem of childhood obesity. The initiative was a natural fit, as she’s been matching local St. Louis chefs with schools since 1992.
Dr. Carrell’s path to the kitchen began at age three, when she learned to cook with her grandmother for the ranch hands of her Texas upbringing. She brings those early cooking experiences full-circle in her nutrition and cooking lessons for kindergarten through grade 6 children in her curriculum. Carrell is also active with the American Culinary Federation’s Chef & Child Foundation, for which she serves as the chair of the St. Louis chapter.
When she signed up with the initiative, she was matched with five St. Louis Charter middle schools and connected with Pat Holmes, R.D., from Fresh Ideas Food Service Management. The two wasted no time discussing class workshops, lunchroom logistics, food service staff training, teacher information, evaluation of student consumption, as well as working with vendors and local farmers. She has incorporated these principles into her nutrition lessons in schools for years, and was about to do the same for the young kids of St. Louis.
“My Fuel for Thought curriculum is geared toward children in kindergarten through sixth grade, and I’m finding it’s a little different with middle school students,” Chef D’Aun said. Noticing the students were exhausted as they entered her 3:00 p.m. class, she included a healthy snack as part of the lesson to demonstrate how nutritious food provides the energy to learn and thrive.
Chef D’Aun hammered home the significance of that first bite to the schoolchildren. She wanted them to realize where the food goes and what the body does with it in the short and long term.
The seventy year old chef is excited about the attention being paid to nutrition and to society’s greater awareness of food’s role in health. She said she’s delighted to still be involved in teaching nutrition to kids, and concluded, “I don’t know if the students will ever know how much they teach me.”
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