Nutritious and Delicious!
At Education Nation, it’s all about helping kids learn. But kids can’t learn if they don’t have nutritious food.
When I went to the Education Nation summit at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza, I found out that there was going to be a cook off to find the healthiest — and tastiest — school lunches. Four past competitors from the reality cooking show Top Chef were given a budget of $1.31 — the price of a regular, unhealthy, school lunch — to spend on the ingredients of healthier, tastier alternatives. Four children from local New York schools were appointed as judges. After all, kids are the ones who will be eating the food! Their names were Maya, Lila, Ryan, and Maliq.
"My first thought was that I wasn’t going to like it, but I was going to try it anyway, and if I didn’t like it, I’d probably feel like vomiting," said Maya.
Lila said that after she first saw the food, she thought, "it looks not so healthy and very disgusting. But it tastes good, and it’s very healthy."
I also interviewed Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. He was at the competition because the Agriculture Department is responsible for making sure kids in public schools get nutritious lunches while at school. As part of his job, he has committed himself to making sure every student in America has access to great tasting, healthy lunches.
"Thirty-one million children, every day go to the school lunch room for school lunch," Secretary Vilsack told me after the contest. “A lot of children today don’t get the right kind of food for lots of different reasons, and we need to improve on our school lunch program."
"It’s helping youngsters eat well, so they can learn well," he added.
The dishes the kids taste-tested were chicken stir-fry, vegetable pizza, meatloaf sandwich, and Mexican chicken. After trying the food, the kids voted and in the end the chicken stir-fry won. It was made by Ariane Duarte, and she won $1,000 to donate to a charity of her choice.
The school lunches competition was a lot of fun! And when it was over I learned that — to quote mothers around the world — even if the food looks bad, eat it anyway! It could be delicious, and even healthy!
—Kid Reporter Grace McManus
PHOTO: The kid taste testers bite into the four school lunches created by past Top Chef contestants. (Photo: Dante A. Ciampaglia)