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Increasing Scratch Cooking in Wisconsin Schools Through Culinary Training

      Objective

      Increase the number of school nutrition professionals incorporating scratch-cooking recipes into menus by providing culinary skills trainings.

      Description

      In an effort to increase the number of schools utilizing scratch cooking, Wisconsin Team Nutrition developed and offered culinary skills training programs. Throughout the summers of 2013 and 2014, eight regional trainings were hosted. Participants were trained on knife skills, use of seasonings, and time management. Participants learned how to prepare 12 recipes utilizing the newly acquired skills. The Chop! Chop! Culinary Skills training video series was released in 2015. Each video of the six-part series introduces viewers to a specific culinary skill needed for cooking with fresh produce or whole grains. Additionally, viewers are introduced to one or two standardized recipes featuring the introduced culinary skill.

      Evaluation

      Projects were evaluated through surveys administered upon completion of training and approximately six months after training. Surveys revealed participants increased their culinary knowledge and skills, comfort level in preparing menu items from scratch, and amount of scratch cooking done at their school. Additionally, participants increased the variety of menu items offered by incorporating the recipes used in the trainings into the school menus.

      Conclusions and Implications

      In-person and web-based trainings are effective ways to teach culinary skills, introduce new foods, and increase the amount of scratch cooking done at schools. Scratch cooking can be a way to expand the variety of healthy school lunch offerings. This may assist schools in meeting the USDA Target 2 sodium guidelines by reducing the number of high sodium processed foods served in school meals.

      Funding

      USDA Team Nutrition Training Grant, CNTN-14-WI, CNTN-12-WI

      Supplementary data