With names like “Shelbe’s Broccoli Surprise,” “Raspberry Salad Supreme” and “Zucchini Noodles,” winning dishes from McKinney ISD’s Jr. Chef Competition are a far cry from the “Sloppy Joes” that most of us endured as kids.
Today’s school cafeteria is all about promoting healthier eating and active lifestyles, and in recent years, McKinney ISD, working together with District food service provider ARAMARK, has moved to the forefront of the movement. All 20 of the District’s elementary campuses have earned recognition from the USDA’s HeatlthierUS School Challenge (7 Gold honorees, 13 Bronze recipients), and 13 schools have earned the Cooper Institute/United Way’s “Healthy Zone School” or “Healthy Zone in Training School” designation.
McKinney ISD/ARAMARK’s Jr. Chef Competition is one more fun—and tasty—way to get kids thinking about and choosing healthier meals. During the month of February, McKinney ISD elementary students were invited to submit healthy recipes along with an explanation of exactly what makes the dish a healthy choice.
“We had 10 schools participate, which is great! From those schools we received 55 different recipes,” said McKinney ISD Registered Dietician Sarah Hull-Ryde.
One winner was chosen from each school, and on March 21, each winner’s recipe was featured during lunch at his/her cafeteria. “The dishes were extremely well-received!” said Hull-Ryde. “Many of the teachers and principals came down to sample the recipes, and some of our cafeteria managers emailed me saying how excited they were that so many students tried the winning recipes!
“I sampled the ‘Fun Fruit Cones’ at Wilmeth and the ‘Zucchini Noodles’ at Eddins. They were both delicious!” said Hull-Ryde.
Here is the complete list of winning entries:
1. Finch Elementary
Shelbe Reeves (2nd grade): “Shelbe’s Broccoli Surprise”
2. McNeil Elementary
Piper Ryan (4th grade): “Raspberry Salad Supreme”
3. Minshew Elementary
Julia Nolen (2nd grade): “Chicken Lettuce Wraps”
4. Caldwell Elementary
Esmirna Marrufo (3rd grade): “Vegetable Steaks”
5. McGowen Elementary
Treyton Bammert-Mueller (4th grade): “Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken Bacon and Tater Tot Bake”
6. Press Elementary
Emilie O’Brien (4th grade): “Yummy Sautéed Veggies”
7. Wolford Elementary
Sydney Leonard (4th grade): “Sydney’s Eggplant Lasagna”
8. Eddins Elementary
Morgan Gingerich (4th grade): “Zucchini Noodles”
9. Wilmeth Elementary
Brynn Siefken (2nd grad): “Fun Fruit Cones”
10. Bennett Elementary
Haylie Keller (4th grade): “Popeye’s Egg Cupcakes”
All participants received a “Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook,” and each winner was also awarded a “Better Homes & Garden Junior Cookbook” along with a stuffed animal. In addition, the students’ healthy recipe explanations will be published in the foodservice newsletter and posted in their respective campus cafeterias.
Thankfully, nobody eats “Sloppy Joes” too often anymore. But, it’s reassuring to know that when unhealthy culinary temptations arise, “Zucchini Noodles” are around to save the day.
Story submitted by Shane Mauldin, MISD
Photo caption: Three of the Jr. Chef Competition winners: (l-r) Morgan Gingerich (Eddins), Shelbe Reeves (Finch) and Piper Ryan (McNeil).