A school food program with delicious meals in Troy, NY

Story by Daryl Burchfield

Last month we spotted Daryl Val on our Facebook Food Revolution Community page posting great pictures and updates about his role as cooks manager at Ark Community Charter School in Troy, NY where he manages their food program and an after school class teaching kids how to cook. We had to find out more and asked him to share his goals for school food and raising good food awareness.

Facebook post “As a chef in a Troy, NY charter school, not only have I committed myself to feeding the students the absolute best food available, but I teach an after school program in cooking through out the school year to 6th graders.”

Our mission in this beautiful and busy school is to not only meet the USDA requirements for the National Breakfast and Lunch programs but to exceed them through careful planning, preparation and service. In our school, we consider appealing and delicious meals as part of our goal in feeding our students, scheduling meals at appropriate times to give the students ample time to eat and digest their food, and giving the students access to hand washing areas before meals. We create a dining room environment that is a comfortable and pleasant experience to share a meal.

Facebook post “The 2010-2011 school year will be a blast! I already have my class – after hearing how much fun it was the students were scrambling to get in it this year. We are a charter school- non-profit, and need money for a new playground. This year we are going to turn our cafeteria into a restaurant and hold a fundraiser – our goal will be to create the menu, have the art class help with the design, get the whole school involved”

As Cook Manager, one of my responsibilities is to create healthy and delicious menus for the students. I also teach an afterschool program during the school year for 6th graders that has become popular with the kids. Last year the kids went through a variety of classes and field trips, learning everything from how to cook a good Mac & Cheese from scratch, to where to find local and organic produce and meats in our area. I gave them information on how supermarkets are set up (to sell items you might not want!) and how to shop smart. Then a trip to the local supermarket butcher and one to the local town butcher that sold a great variety of grass-fed beef. The kids' eyes really opened up after seeing the movie “Food Inc.” We also viewed some clips from Jamie's Food Revolution show – the chicken nugget clip brought silence to the room! In the end, the kids learned where their food comes from and how to cook it. Hopefully eating habits changed.

This year, the students will be involved in menu planning, nutrition, cooking from scratch and, hopefully, some fun and exciting field trips to local farmers markets and dairies.
Facebook post “Back to school time is almost here in NY. Parents, make sure you get a copy of your schools lunch menu…is it nutritious and appealing? Are all of the food groups present? And, if needed, be prepared to send them off with a great nutritious lunch!”

About the author: Daryl Burchfield is the cooks manager at Ark Community Charter School in Troy, New York


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