The CIA Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids National Leadership Summit brought together school foodservice leaders from around the country, including directors and chefs, to share and learn culinary strategies, techniques, flavor insights, and food trends with the shared goal of improving the nutrition, flavor, and appeal of the foods served in our nation's schools.
Click here to see the collection of photographs from the 2015 conference on flickr.
May 25, 2015
Sanna Delmonico, MS, RDN, CHE
Senior Manager – Culinary Nutrition for Strategic Initiatives
Nutrition and Food Safety Instructor
Presenters at the fifth Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids National Leadership Summit inspired the group of nearly 200 school nutrition stakeholders to embrace and celebrate the amazing things being done in school food. They showed us how schools can serve hot breakfast in the classroom, source vegetables from school gardens, partner with chefs, engage administrators and the community, cook from scratch, bring “old school” menu items into the 21st century, increase participation, and even raise bees for honey. They demonstrated innovation and creativity in solving school nutrition challenges, inspiring attendees to imagine what can be done in their own districts.
The summit was held May 5th through 7th at our CIA San Antonio campus and was attended by school nutrition directors, chefs, and consultants as well as sponsor representatives and members of the media. During the opening session chef Lars Kronmark presented the story and flavors of the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwich and chef Garrett Berdan demonstrated a delicious way to adapt it for schools.
On Wednesday, Dr. Julie Menella challenged attendees to look at school food from the perspective of children’s taste and flavor preferences, and presented fascinating research into how and why children learn to like new foods. Chefs Jeremy West and Matt Poling demonstrated ways they help kids learn to like new foods in their Colorado district, with locally sourced produce and versatile, flavorful spice kits.
A panel discussion on Scratch, Processed, or Somewhere in Between?, explored the varied ways large districts, contract foodservice, and small districts think about sourcing and serving the best quality, appetizing food, recognizing that one size, or one solution, does not fit all. School chef Robert Rusan presented recipe innovations working in his smaller Missouri district, and chef Brad Trudeau showed us what works in his large district in Garland, Texas. Chef Lisa Feldman demonstrated the possibilities of a base salsa recipe with 12 Salsas in 12 Minutes, including Thaitanium and Strawberry Smash salsas.
Inspiring us with humor and creative kitchen “hacks,” chef Cyndie Story proved that small innovations in kitchens can save lots of time. Nine students from San Antonio participated in a Taste Test Panel, thoughtfully tasting recipes submitted by districts around the country and tested in our hands-on Kitchen Sessions. The favorite dish was Sweet Thai Chili Chicken submitted by Greenville County Schools, which one student said “should be in a restaurant!”
On Thursday morning, Harvard researcher Juliana Cohen presented findings showing lasting changes in food choices occur when districts partner with chefs to improve quality and flavor of foods served to children. She inspired us to focus on the three things that determine consumption: accessibility, affordability, and palatability. Yes, that too can be done in school food.