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Cooking Up a Healthy, Delicious School Breakfast: Idaho’s Chef Designed School Breakfast

The Corny Huevos Rancheros breakfast entrée

The Corny Huevos Rancheros breakfast entrée packs in a 0.5 cup serving of vegetables at breakfast!

For 50 years, the School Breakfast Program has provided children of all economic backgrounds a well-balanced meal consistent with the latest nutrition science to set them up for a healthy day of growing and learning.  And once again, USDA is celebrating School Breakfast Week (March 7-11) to raise awareness about the many ways the program benefits school kids nationwide.  The blog below highlights a (Fiscal Year 2013) Team Nutrition Training Grantee’s launch of their Chef Designed School Breakfast initiative, reminding us all that good nutrition is critical to a child’s overall success!

By Jennifer Butler, MEd and Brenda Thompson-Wattles, RDN Idaho Department of Education

As the old adage goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! This couldn’t be more true for our Idaho students. Our school staff noticed firsthand what researchers have been reporting about the benefits of eating breakfast. When kids eat breakfast, they are better able to pay attention, behave in class, and learn what is being taught.  It’s important on test days, as well as on all the days leading up to the tests!

Our Idaho Team Nutrition has been devoted to making school breakfast an important part of every student’s day. With the help of a Fiscal Year 2013 Team Nutrition Training Grant, we launched an initiative called Chef Designed School Breakfast (CDSB) to train school foodservice staff on ways to use a “chef’s approach” to expand and improve their existing School Breakfast Program (SBP).

Between October 2014 and August 2015, 159 Idaho school nutrition professionals participated in hands-on training workshops where they learned techniques to expand their School Breakfast Program. Among other management concepts, attendees learned how to think like a chef and promote their school breakfast menus using the following techniques:

  1. Be a culinarian: when serving food, wear a chef coat to emphasize that something special was made in the kitchen.
  2. Garnish: embellish your meals with edible garnishes that add flavor and appeal.
  3. Use creative names: give each dish a fun, unique name that appeals to students and generates excitement.
  4. Get support from school staff: talk to the teachers, administrators, and staff at your school about how they can hype up the SBP with their students.
  5. Engage students and get their buy-in: get the school student body or other popular student programs on board with promoting the SBP.

These workshops taught attendees a “chef’s approach” to enhancing school breakfast while preparing recipes from the CDSB Book. These scrumptious recipes were developed by a culinary chef and registered dietitian and were tested by the Marsing School District foodservice staff and students.  More than 780 students from grades K-12 participated in taste-tests of new breakfast items like the famous Rocky Mountain Breakfast Burrito and the Corny Huevos Rancheros. Results from the taste-tests were overwhelmingly positive, and the final recipes were incorporated into the CDSB initiative.

If you are interested in learning more about CDSB or are looking for new, delicious recipes for your SBP, check out our CDSB Book. And for more information about Idaho Team Nutrition, please visit our Web site.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

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