Helen Phillips 0000-00-00 00:00:00
<b>Leveraging Our Strengths</b> I love being a school nutrition professional, don’t you? All of you who have had the opportunity to see the school nutrition-focused episode of the television show “Chopped,” on The Food Network, know exactly what I mean. “Chopped” is a cooking competition in which four contestants compete by turning a mystery basket of everyday ingredients into an extraordinary meal. They are given just seconds to plan and only 30 minutes to cook, and their efforts are judged by a panel of three culinary experts. In the “Class Acts” episode, four school cafeteria chefs competed to raise awareness about the importance of good meals for kids. Not only did they impress with their abilities to create dishes from such items as tuna, dill pickles and quinoa, but their spirit and commitment actually brought the judges to tears! An article posted on SchoolNutrition.org announcing repeat airings of the episode has received a deluge of positive comments from members like you and me who are just bursting with pride. Because we have reason to be proud every day. We do amazing things in our schools and districts, especially given the extraordinary restrictions on budget, labor, time and equipment that we face. School nutrition professionals create magic and miracles. But we don’t have to do it alone—indeed, we can do it even better in partnership with other stakeholders. Shows like this one help to raise awareness about our expertise, and I think it can be an important springboard for us to reach out and open our doors to potential allies. Our school nutrition chefs can work hand in hand with other chefs in the community, which is why SNA is taking a leadership role in the next phases of the Chefs Move to Schools initiative. Working together to continue to train staff, educate students and bring positive attention to what we do is a win-win-win opportunity. I had an opportunity to speak with one of my U.K. counterparts at a meeting at the British Embassy. She lamented how efforts to raise meal standards and promote innovation were undercut by Jamie Oliver’s grandstanding about the poor quality of school meals (sound familiar?). She fervently wished that he had reached out to her organization first to discuss priorities and work together, united in a shared goal and approach. We can’t keep waiting for such “experts” to come to us before they attack our programs or prescribe various solutions. Instead, we need to start the dialogue—and we can do it from a position of strength and confidence. Media success stories like “Chopped” give us a way to get started. And, by the way, if you haven’t seen the episode yet, visit www.foodnetwork.com/chopped/class-acts/index.html, which has information about repeat airings. At press time, it was scheduled to air on January 7 and 8. (Have a tissue box handy!)
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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