May 14, 2010 --The school's goal is to eliminate unhealthy eating and incorporate the culinary arts program into the school lunch program.
Craig Williams, Supt. of Dist. 215:"In essence, what you have is the students prepare the menu -- the culinary students -- they also help with the preparation of food, often with the help of serving food. And they also do all of the special-event food planning for groups and activities in the school. So it's a dynamic concept where the students are actually involved in the cooking and the preparation of this students. "The first year we were very skeptical because we didn't know how the students would react to healthy food, so to speak. And i think the first month or two the students were accustomed to eating pizza and nachos with cheese. Yeah, it's good stuff but not healthy. We eliminated that stuff totally! And students came in that first month of school and you should of heard them. They're like, 'Wow where's everything at? Where's the food? Where's the junk food?' in essence, and now we're serving up to 500 additional lunches per week, which is an excellent count for us. So we know that it's working out." Chef Peggy Banks, Executive Chef/Culinary Arts Instructor, Thornton Fractional Academic Center: "We do entrees; we do desserts; we do fresh soups and salads to cut down costs. So every day we make a fresh soup, which they can get served in a bread bowl instead of a regular bowl. This kitchen is a little bit smaller, so we do chef salads. At our larger schools, we do a salad bar, so they have a choice of fresh fruit and veggies with low-fat dressings or fat-free dressings. "As a chef, my motto is you can't serve someone something you don't know what it tastes like. So you make sure that it's tasty, it's reduced salt, and you find other ways to season food with herbs and spices. So our students are getting nutrition that they need every day. "They were looking for their fast food. They miss their burgers and their fries and their pizzas. And so what we've done is come up with a concept of giving them a turkey burger every now and then. I'm not big on the sandwich deal, but every now and then they'll get a turkey on a whole-wheat bun. We try to stay away from a whole lot of processed foods because I feel like if I can feed them fresh foods at least I know I've done my job of giving them that fresh food every day that I know that they need."