1. Why did you develop the Operation CHEF program? We wanted to be proactive in helping the community. We used input from every member of our team to create a new curriculum based on our experience, evaluation and evidence. The program is designed to be flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of each location and its participants. The students have fun while learning about cooking and nutrition. Since making this switch to our own cooking course for kids and teens, we have seen a marked improvement in knowledge gained.2. Have you gotten feedback from the kids? As a result of the class, participants feel more confident making something to eat by themselves, using a knife safely and following a recipe. They also report improved enjoyment in eating a variety of vegetables and trying new foods. A few comments about their favorite thing they made or learned in class:
“My favorite meals were all of them because I like trying new foods.”
“One way to make my favorite meal healthier is to put better things in my food or put fruits and vegetables in.”
3. What do you wish people understood about child and family nutrition?
It’s about a lot more than cooking. All of our work is based on evidence, data and best practices. While hands-on cooking is at the center of what people see, it’s the work that goes on “behind the curtain” that often gets missed and undervalued. Members of our team will be representing OFS at the Annual School Nutrition Association Conference in July. School nutrition professionals from all over the country will have the chance to attend an educational session focused on our work transforming the school cafeteria at Normandy High School. We are grateful that our work is being recognized and used as an example for others to follow.
4. How do you hope the program to grow in the future?
We are building more and more value into program offerings. Employers in the region are looking at ways to sustain a healthy workforce, and our programs are every bit as helpful to adults. Business leaders are realizing that just because someone has a job doesn’t mean all is well at the dinner table. They are recognizing the need to provide answers to the problem of food insecurity among their employees, and they are looking to us for help.