Schools Score Nutrition Grant

BERLIN – A new federal grant will allow local schools the chance to learn about nutrition.

The United States Department of Agriculture awarded Maryland $2 million as a Team Chef Nutrition grant. Worcester County, one of nine counties to take part in the project, received $28,600 of that grant for use by the Culinary and Healthful Enhancement of Food (CHEF) team program. The three schools targeted are Ocean City, Buckingham and Showell elementary schools.

Chef Paul Suplee, the instructor for the Worcester Technical High School Culinary Arts program, expressed determination to use the funding as effectively as possible.

“We’re taking a full business approach,” he said.

The grant provides funding for culinary arts students to create healthy, yet appetizing, meals for students at the elementary school level. Each county will develop one week of meals and then share what they’ve developed with the other eight that received part of the grant, creating nine weeks worth of nutritious school lunches.

Suplee stressed that there was more to the grant then just generating the food, however.
“We’re teaming with other departments at the technical high school,” said Suplee.

Students in marketing classes will develop slogans and a website, among other things, to raise awareness about the project and to promote good nutrition in children.

Suplee is an advocate of making schools healthier for children, claiming that childhood obesity and diabetes is a “huge issue in the country.”

“The whole point of the grant is to try and make lunches healthier than they are right now,” he added.

Suplee did point out that there were already standards in place for nutrition in school, but that the current system would definitely benefit from the involvement of the culinary arts. He added that the overall goal was to “get people excited about the choices they have.”

Several of his culinary arts students agreed.

“For elementary age kids, it [the grant] is the start of teaching nutrition,” said Ashley Cope, one of Suplee’s students, “so that it’s always a part of them.”

Daniel Ames, a member of Cope’s culinary arts class, believes that the project will, “help kids to make healthier choices for their bodies.”

The new menus will debut at the schools in January 2011 and last until May.