Students create healthy recipes for Culinary Arts Fair

School nutrition professionals in one rural West Virginia district wanted to do more to educate students about nutrition, recognizing that engaging with students could help the effort to lower obesity rates and improve health. Wyoming County School District‘s Director of Child Nutrition and General Wellness Programs Rhonda Thomas created a student culinary arts fair to encourage a friendly competition for students to create healthy recipes.

The competition was open to students from both high schools in the Wyoming County School District. Recognizing that many in the community didn’t have extra resources to buy the necessary supplies for recipes, the fair was set up to be judged by students, which allowed the nutrition department to provide for all the food and tools the students needed to create their dishes.

In addition to making recipes for the competition, students also had to present about what they were making. The presentation included the ingredients, photos of the finished product and why they chose the recipe.

Baklava was the winning recipe

During the first round of competition, each high school chose a winning recipe. At one school, a chicken salad recipe took first place, students loved the breading. At the other, a student’s baklava recipe came out on top and went on to be the overall county winner.

“The baklava made with whole grains will be featured on the school lunch menu next year,” said Rhonda Thomas, Director of Child Nutrition and General Wellness Programs for Wyoming County School District. “The recipes had to follow the nutritional guidelines required for school lunches.”

After the competition, all of the students’ recipes from the culinary arts fair were gathered to be compiled in a cookbook.  The cookbook will be sold to help fund future culinary arts fairs and Thomas hopes to be able to expand the fair to the entire state.

“We felt this was a very beneficial program for the students. It provided students an opportunity to explore future careers, also it was a way to get students who aren’t athletic, musical or theatrical involved in a school activity,” said Thomas.

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