Back To School With Chef Nights At 6 Local Schools

  • Friday, September 16, 2011

The Hamilton County Department of Education, in partnership with Coordinated School Health, announced its new schedule for this fall's Chef Nights events, where students will be treated to healthy cooking demonstrations by local chefs and a sampling of freshly prepared food.

Upcoming Chef Nights will be held in September and October at Brown Academy, Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy, East Lake Academy, East Lake Elementary, Hardy Elementary, and Orchard Knob Elementary. Parents and families of students attending selected elementary schools are encouraged to attend.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, poor eating patterns in childhood are major contributors to childhood obesity and contribute to chronic diseases starting in childhood, such as type 2 diabetes and those that emerge throughout one’s lifetime, such as cardiovascular disease. Chef Nights are designed to teach local elementary school children and their families the benefits of eating fresh food at school and serving fresh fruits and vegetables at home.

Each Chef Night features area chefs preparing easy recipes, nutritional information for parents, raffles for fresh produce, and games to encourage physical activity. The learning continues beyond each Chef Night event with a weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables as classroom snacks that are woven into lesson plans as well as training for cafeteria managers and staff on fresh food preparation methods.

This past July, Carolyn Childs, director of the School Nutrition Program for Hamilton County Schools, and Russell Cliche of Coordinated School Health attended the 65th Annual School Nutrition Association National Conference in Nashville where they shared their success with the Chef Night program. “We were honored to have this opportunity where we showcased the collaborative approaches we are bringing to improve student health,” said Ms. Childs.

This year’s participating chefs are recruited by Chef Charlie Loomis of Greenlife. Also in attendance are community partners including Crabtree Farms, Creative Discovery Museum, Dynamic Dietetics, East Brainerd Farmers’ Market, La Paz, and the Urban League. Chef Nights are funded in part by Gaining Ground, an initiative of the Benwood Foundation to increase the production and consumption of locally grown food. The USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program makes possible the weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables while Coordinated School Health provides nutrition education materials.

The demonstrations and taste-testings, open only to the families of children who attend the schools below, will occur as follows:

East Lake Elementary: Sept. 15 6-7 p.m.
Hardy Elementary: Sept. 27 6-7 p.m.
Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy: Sept. 29 6-7 p.m.
Orchard Knob Elementary: Oct. 4 6-7 p.m.
Brown Academy: Oct. 6 6-7 p.m.
East Lake Academy: TO BE ANNOUNCED.

For more information about the Chef Night program please contact Ms. Childs at 209-5653, or Mr. Cliche

Gaining Ground is helping create and develop a sustainable and distinctively-Chattanoogan foodscape through grants, coordinated efforts and public awareness. Commissioned by the Benwood Foundation to help increase demand for, production and consumption of local food, Gaining Ground is helping the region view food in new ways.

For more information on Gaining Ground contact Jeff Pfitzer, director at, 785-4231

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