Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chef Carmel Leads Culinary Training for Charleston and Dorchester County School Foodservice Workers

Dorchester 2 Director of Food Services, Dr. Ray Bahadori,(l) and Charleston County Director of Food Services, Walter Campbell, (r) enjoy the buffet produced on the last day of class.
Left to right: Ashley Ridge High School Cook/Server Susan Stubelek, Oakbrook Elementary/Middle School Foodservice Worker Charlotte Perez, Mt. Pleasant Academy Foodservice Manager Angela McLaughlin, and Alston Middle School Cook/Cashier Pat Pursley.
Left to right: River Oaks/Eagle Nest Cook/Cashier Margarita Douglas, Newington Elementary School Cook/Cashier Vickie Couch, Murray Lasaine Foodservice Manager/Cook Priscilla Drayton, Mitchell Elementary Foodservice Manager Inez Washington.
Left to right: Orange Grove Charter School Register/Kitchen Denise Alston, Springfield Elementary Head Cook Arnette Fleming, Stono Park Elementary School Cashier/Baker Karen Jones, and James Simmons/Memminger Foodservice Manager Karen Brown.
Left to right: Alston Middle School Cook Shirley Ellington, Summerville High School Cook Celestine Mitchell, Alston Middle School Foodservice Manager Barbara Burbage, and Summerville Elementary Cook JoAnn Jones.
Culinary Training for Charleston and Dorchester County School Foodservice Workers
The project included an innovative summer culinary training program, designed and taught by Chef Michael Carmel of the Culinary Institute specifically for school foodservice staff from Charleston County and Dorchester 2 school districts. The initial course was funded by the Charleston Tri-County chapter of Eat Smart, Move More (http://esmmsc.org/charleston-tri-county) and Slow Food Charleston (http://www.slowfoodcharleston.org/index.html), with teaching time donated in-kind by Chef Carmel. The purpose behind the course was to develop an overall awareness and understanding among the school foodservice staff of how to cook healthy food for public school children utilizing better cooking methods, ingredients, and delivery. This course was embraced from the earliest planning stages by the Foodservice Directors from both school districts, Mr. Walter Campbell and Dr. Ray Bahadori, who are committed to taking the skills and recipes learned from this training and integrating them into their programs. Sixteen foodservice staff were selected from eleven different schools for this initial training.

The hope for this project is to positively impact the knowledge and eating habits of students and staff in Charleston and Dorchester 2 county public schools. There are approximately 42,500 students attending Charleston County schools and 25,000 in Dorchester County. Many students are consuming at least 50% of their total daily calories while at school. School cafeteria food ingredients come primarily from government distributed commodity food stores that are often highly-processed and of poor quality (both nutritionally and by food grading standards).

In addition, many of the foodservice staff are not familiar with some of the more healthful foods that we would like to introduce into the school meal cycles, nor with healthier food preparation methods. However, ensuring that cafeteria staff receives training and professional recognition through a “Chefs in Schools” model initiative will set in motion a systems change within school nutrition services that will increase access to healthier, more nutritious foods at school. Foodservice personnel will learn to incorporate varied and more healthful foods in their cafeteria; learn food preparation techniques that improve nutritional quality, maximize efficiency, and enhance safety; and participate in a system of ongoing training and recognition that fosters pride within their profession. The MUSC Lean Team, a childhood obesity initiative working in Charleston County schools, has committed to working closely with school foodservice administration and partners
to facilitate the inclusion of the new menu items in regular menu cycle rotation.