Schools across the country are improving school lunches by adding more healthful ingredients such as whole grains, low-fat dairy and vegetables with low-fat ranch dip. Chefs are at the helm of the effort to bring change through their involvement in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools program. Now, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) is teaming up with the makers of Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Dressing to raise funds to support ACF’s involvement in the program.
With help from celebrity chef Cat Cora, ACF and the makers of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing are hosting Lunch Break for Schools, a national fundraising event to benefit ACF’s involvement in the Chefs Move to Schools program. From February 27-March 2, 2012 chefs like Cora will create and sell delicious, healthy lunches, with all proceeds going to ACF to create resources for nutrition educational programs at schools.
“Since creating the best flavors using whole foods is at the heart of what we do, chefs can help break down the barriers kids have with certain foods—like vegetables—and teach them that nutritious foods can taste amazing and be fun,” said Cora. “With Lunch Break for Schools, some of America’s best chefs will create healthy lunches that will not only be supporting an important program like Chefs Move to Schools, but also show that good food can taste great, too.”
For the fundraiser, chefs will develop a culinary spin on classic school lunches using the sample lunch menu created by the White House last year as a framework. The chefs’ gourmet menus will include plenty of the better-for-you options too often lacking in today’s school lunches. Cora, who attended the Chefs Move to Schools kickoff at the White House in June 2010 and works with a school in Santa Barbara, Calif., will serve as the fundraiser’s national spokesperson and executive chef.
“Parents have long known that kids will eat more vegetables if you offer them a little dip,” said Jon Balousek, general manager for Hidden Valley Salad Dressings. “The White House’s sample menus showed that what parents know is true at homes is also true at schools. Working with the American Culinary Federation in support of Chef’s Move to School, we believe we can help better kids’ nutrition.”
The commitment from the makers of Hidden Valley Salad Dressings is part of the brand’s Love Your Veggies™ nutrition education campaign. Since launching the campaign in 2006, they have donated more than $1 million to nutrition education programs.
This year, in addition to the money raised through the fundraiser, Hidden Valley will donate $150,000 to ACF’s Chef & Child Foundation to create curriculum, tools and other resources needed to help chefs working in schools.
“Our chefs have been a key part of the Chefs Move to Schools program since the day First Lady Michelle Obama announced it on the White House lawn,” said Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, ACF national president. “This fundraiser will help us enlist more chefs and secure more resources to educate kids about food and nutrition.”