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Information Alert: Chefs Move to Schools Program

Nutrition Services Division Information Alert

To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: USDA-SNP-04-2010

Attention: Child Nutrition Program Directors

Date: August 2010
Subject: Chefs Move to Schools Program

The California Department of Education (CDE) is excited to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s recently unveiled “Chefs Move to Schools” program. This program encourages local chefs to work with school districts and lend their knowledge of nutrition and food to promote healthy and affordable school meals.

How to Sign Up

The “Chefs Move to Schools” program is an important resource in combating the childhood obesity epidemic by creating healthy meals that meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for school meals. We encourage you to visit the “Chefs Move to Schools” Web page (part of the United States Department of Agriculture Web site) to learn more about the program and to sign-up to have a volunteer chef come visit your school.

Schools interested in participating can sign-up by visiting the Lets Move! Web site at and select “Chefs Move to Schools” button.

Overview of the “Chefs Move to Schools” Program

The “Chefs Move to Schools” program is part of the Let’s Move! campaign, a nationwide effort to end the childhood obesity epidemic within one generation. The program invites administrators or principals to sign-up online to link with volunteer chefs in their local area. To date, over 500 schools have signed up to participate in the initiative.

On June 4, 2010, hundreds of chefs from across the country gathered at the White House to support the program. At the event, Michelle Obama called on chefs to join forces with local school districts and begin collaborating with teachers, parents, school nutritionists, and administrators to teach children about healthy eating.

Chef Ryan Douglas of California’s Riverside Unified School District was one of the many chefs invited to attend the event. Kevin Concannon, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, recently visited Riverside to tour their internationally recognized Farmers Market Salad Bar program. The USDA is interested in programs and how to expand them to other districts. The CDE applauds Riverside Unified and the many other districts using chefs in promoting healthy school meals through a variety of approaches.

The Role of Chefs in California’s Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Chefs have tremendous power as leaders on this issue because of their deep knowledge of food and nutrition and their ability to deliver these messages in a fun and delicious way…” - First Lady Michelle Obama, remarks at a Let’s Move! Event.

Recent studies suggest that school-based obesity intervention programs, when complemented by community involvement, can significantly contribute to the fight against childhood obesity. Forming partnerships between schools and the broader community is an important part of fighting California’s obesity epidemic. Involving chefs is one more strategy to further California’s current efforts.

Additional Opportunities to Create Healthier School Environments

The “Chefs Move to Schools” program aligns with the CDE’s efforts to promote healthy meals and establish healthy eating habits in schools. Chefs have the ability to create healthy and appetizing dishes and uniquely deliver fun messages about food and nutrition to young audiences. Pairing chefs with local schools is a unique way to create healthy meals that align more closely with the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, which include decreasing the amount of sugar, fat, and salt in school meals, while increasing the amount of whole grains and produce served in schools. Below is a list of current opportunities your school can take advantage of in order to further your efforts in creating a healthier school environment.

HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC): The CDE strongly encourages all schools to apply for the HUSSC, a voluntary initiative of the USDA, which recognizes and awards schools participating in the National School Lunch Program for their efforts in creating healthy school environments. The HUSSC is also a component of the Let’s Move! campaign.

For more information about this program and how your school can qualify for a $500-$2,000 incentive, visit the Team Nutrition (TN) Web site at and select the HealthierUS School Challenge. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Moreno by phone at 916-324-9749 or by e-mail at

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Workshops: Beginning October 6, 2010, and continuing through March 16, 2011, the CDE will offer free, two-day trainings entitled “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: A Centerpiece for a Healthy School Environment,” in collaboration with UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego. The trainings will repeat the well-received workshop content presented in the 2009-2010 trainings with topics including garden-enhanced nutrition education, academic connections to nutrition and school gardens, culinary arts in the classroom, composting and recycling, and Farm to School. Shaping Health as Partners in Education (SHAPE) districts may use these trainings to meet the SHAPE training requirement. If you are a Network for a Healthy California contractor, Day One is Network allowable except the last 45 minutes of the agenda, and Day Two is 100 percent allowable.

Registration information for the trainings will be posted on the Healthy School Environment Web site at by late summer 2010. For more information, please contact Deborah Beall by phone at 916-324-8790 or by e-mail at

Starting Right in the Child Nutrition Program: The CDE will continue the instructional program for front-line staff launched with the 2007 USDA TN Grant, Starting Right in the Child Nutrition Program: The Professional Education of Front-line Child Nutrition Personnel. This school district/community college partnership program utilizes chefs from local colleges and from the broader community as chef-instructors. Courses relevant to the child nutrition profession are offered regionally. Leading the statewide program is Glendale Community College Chef-Instructor, Andrew Feldman, and Registered Dietitian, Sona Donayan. This CDE-sponsored, Cal-Pro-NET Center partners with regional child nutrition program directors and chefs to implement the college-based program.

Four original TN school districts will continue providing training from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2012. The CDE will mail a request for application to school districts in early fall 2010 in order to recruit four additional regional training sites. The NSD strongly urges interested directors to submit a letter of intent. For more information about this chef inspired instructional program, please contact Heather Reed, Nutrition Education Consultant, by phone at 916-323-3581 or by e-mail at

Helpful Online Resources for Creating Healthier School Environments
Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Friday, October 2, 2015
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