BOSTON, Jan. 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The most recent report on household food security by the United States Department of Agriculture found 20% of American children to be food insecure. For more than 30 million children across the country, this means relying on school meals for the nutrition they need to become healthy, productive adults. With this in mind, Project Bread has launched a valuable, new tool to help food service directors and school kitchen workers serve children both nutritious and delicious school food that meets the latest USDA standards.
Let's Cook Healthy School Meals, available for free to download at www.projectbread.org/childrenandschools, offers more than 100 recipes designed to tempt students into eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while reducing salt and dairy fat. Each recipe complies with the USDA standards announced in 2012, which are laid out in a simple table at the beginning of the book.
"We've seen time and time again that the food in our cafeterias has a profound effect on children's ability to learn and grow," said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. "Children who are hungry have a harder time concentrating and learning. They perform poorly on standardized tests, miss school more often, earn lower grades and are more likely to have behavioral problems. If we can maximize the resources available to school food service professionals, we can provide every child with the level of nutrition they need to be their very best."
The recipes in Let's Cook Healthy School Meals are designed to serve 100 elementary students, but can be easily scaled up or down to feed more or fewer children. Each meets at least one requirement of the USDA regulations and, where possible, aims to maximize the use of USDA commodity products. Many of the calculations are based on the USDA buying guide. The cookbook also includes tips to help food service workers maximize ordering, use herbs and spices to increase flavor and other tricks the contributing chefs have learned along the way. Each recipe also takes into account challenges school kitchen workers face every day: budgets, equipment, training, inventory and time.
The recipes in the book were developed by Project Bread chefs and school food service directors from across Massachusetts. Chef Didi Emmons, founding chef of four restaurants in Greater Boston and the author of three cookbooks, teamed up with Project Bread to test recipes. Each recipe was put through Nutrikids for nutrient analysis and cost
"Our recipes are easy to follow and kids love the food," said Chef Vin Connelly, kitchen manager at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, who contributed 16 recipes to the cookbook ranging from meatballs and chicken cacciatore to curried chickpeas and vegetarian chili. "It's all about feeding kids well to keep them healthy and learning in school."
Let's Cook Healthy School Meals is the product of a long-running focus Project Bread has placed on the idea that the opposite of hungry is not simply full, but healthy. Seven years ago, the organization launched an initiative called Chefs in Schools, sending professionally trained chefs to work with kitchen staff in local school districts to produce healthy meals, stay on budget and serve meals the kids would want to eat. That initiative has since expanded to reach more than 25,000 students. In the process, Project Bread chefs learned a lot about the challenges of cooking from scratch with limited equipment, funding and time; and they've applied all those lessons to this new cookbook.
"At the outset, we couldn't have envisioned Chefs in Schools would be so successful and produce such a well-grounded, valuable cookbook for food service professionals," said Michael Peck, director of food and nutrition services at Boston Public Schools.
For more information or to download a copy of "Let's Cook Healthy School Meals", visit www.projectbread.org/childrenandschools.
About Project Bread
Project Bread is the only statewide antihunger organization committed to providing people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life with sustainable, reliable access to nutritious food. From community-based meal programs, to early childhood and school nutrition initiatives, to improved access to farm-to-table resources, Project Bread approaches hunger as a complex problem with multiple solutions. With funds raised through The Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country, and other sources, Project Bread pioneers innovative initiatives and supports effective programs to eradicate hunger in our state. For more information, visit www.projectbread.org, www.facebook.com/projectbread, or www.twitter.com/walkforhunger.
SOURCE Project Bread