Michelle Obama, Sam Kass, and kids at the launch of Chefs Move to Schools at the White House, May 2010
Admittedly, she had us at, “Hello, chefs.” But what really lit our pilot light back in May of 2010 was Ms. Obama’s call for kitchen-folk to lend a hand in guiding America’s youth toward a healthier future. We know that chefs are a hardworking, committed, and passionate bunch, and it doesn’t take a leap of faith to imagine their tough, resilient, asbestos-proofed hands steering us away from an epidemic in unhealthy food choices. Who better than chefs to push kids toward roast chicken and braised kale and away from disposable food containers?Twitter for the announcement of our winner!
Chefs are an active bunch and apparently not just behind the line (or carousing after work). Of our respondents, 48 percent already volunteer, whether by lending their culinary support at church or giving time to the local soup kitchen and to nonprofit charities like Share Our Strength, Recipe for Success, Meals on Wheels, and yes, Chefs Move to Schools. Charitable activity has its rewards, even professionally, but in an industry when 16-hour days are the norm, we’re pleased to see the trend in community involvement still going strong.
Many survey takers call for fundamental changes in school lunches, and 89 percent of those surveyed express an interest in working with the school foodservice program. Among the throng of voices, there is an audible cry for locavorism in the cafeteria. Brainstorming new avenues of nutritional advancement, some suggest reorganizing school curriculums, making The Omnivore’s Dilemma required reading, or incorporating food awareness lessons into subjects like arithmetic and chemistry.
The largest majority of chef respondents want to lead “know your farmer” workshops. And a whopping 99 percent of those polled feel that farmers and kids are a natural fit, advocating for gardening classes, participation with local livestock farms, and lessons on seasonality. Chefs with the adventurous spirit even propose leading foraging expeditions.
Here’s hoping that the eager survey-taker mentioned above makes the time to give back (you know who you are!), and that Michelle (sigh!) gets her wish, the number of chefs in schools continues to grow, and kids benefit with healthier choices and a stronger foundation in food awareness. Class charcuterie project, anyone?