Archive for June, 2010

Chefs Move To Schools: OFL Detroit volunteers talk about what's next in the fight against childhood obesity

Last night we held a panel of seven of eight chefs who went to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to help first lady Michelle Obama launch her Chefs Move To Schools campaign, her latest effort to fight childhood obesity.

The chefs — Aaron Bruck, Ina Cheatem, Barbara Hughes, Jim Kokenyesdi, Karen Lee, Stewart McWilliams and Pat Parko — shared their experience of being among hundreds of chefs nationwide who descended on the nation’s capital on June 4, the challenges they face and what’s next in their mission to help schools serve healthier meals to students.

From left: Karen Lee, Barb Hughes, Stewart McWilliams, Jim Kokenyesdi, Pat Parko, Aaron Bruck and Ina Cheatem

The chefs discussed at length some of the challenges they’ll face in the schools’ kitchens, ranging from funding (according to this Washington Post article, the federal government allocates $2.68 per child per lunch) to resistance (i.e. administrators or complicated relationships with vendors and catering companies). During a breakfast symposium hosted by Share Our Strength before the launch event on the South Lawn, the chefs learned that while this is a very huge task, it’s important to take baby steps, i.e. start by planting a garden and getting the discussion going.

We know it’s not going to happen overnight but with the dedication of these chefs, as well as others across the country, this is a huge step forward in fighting childhood obesity.

Chef Jim summed it up best when he talked about how he alone couldn’t change 20 schools but by building a network of equally passionate chefs, as a team they can work together in helping students eat healthier.

Thanks, chefs, for all you do and we look forward to seeing your passion translate into healthier food for students.

Also, a big thank you to Stewart McWilliams who graciously hosted our group at his restaurant Mind, Body and Spirits. For pics of the awesome food and even more awesome chefs, check out our Facebook page.

June 23, 2010 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

Volunteer spotlight: Mary Gisslander

Mary Gisslander proudly shows off MyPyramid after a class at St. Matthews and St. Josephs.

Mary Gisslander is an Operation Frontline Detroit volunteer who loves to share what she knows with others. That makes OFL a perfect fit for the Macomb Culinary Institute student!
Mary took some time out from her jam-packed schedule to answer a few questions for us.

Q. Where were you born and where do you live?

A. I was born in Detroit and currently live in Sterling Heights.

Q. How did you hear about OFL and why did you want to be a part of it?

A. I first heard about OFL while taking the Culinary Techniques class at Macomb Culinary Institute during the Fall 2009 Semester. Chef Ray Hollingsworth showed the class a flyer, I was interested, wrote down the website, went on line, read about OFL and decided it would be a great way to help other people to learn what I have learned. I observed a few of the classes and decided it was definitely something that I could do.

Q. When you get your Macomb culinary degree, what are your future plans? Why did you decide to go to culinary school?

A. At this point I am not exactly sure where my focus will be in the culinary world. There are so many different areas to consider. If everything goes according to “the plan” I will be involved with a culinary internship that will give me exposure to all areas that are covered in the Associate Degree of Culinary Arts. After that, I will have a better view on where I would like to head. I have worked for many seasons at the Franklin Cider Mill. Chefs around the area will come in to purchase fresh apple cider and choose from our cheese selections for their menus. During conversations with them, I learned of Macomb’s culinary program and decided that eventually that was something I would like to do. Finally the time was right and I decided to enroll in a few classes, and while I was at it, why not earn the Prep-Cook Certification. After taking the Culinary Techniques class I was hooked, and declared my Associates in Culinary Arts.

Q. What do you like best about OFL? The participants? The classes?

A. There are so many good things about OFL it is hard to pick out what is “best”. In six weeks the program touches on proper nutrition, eating healthy, proper portion sizes, the food pyramid, sanitation, food safety, reading and preparing recipes, knife skills, kitchen safety, working and eating together, cutting up poultry, menu planning, budgeting, how to shop at the grocery store, organizing a shopping list and creating an economical meal. So, in this six week program the participants learn a little about everything I will learn to earn a degree. These are the basics that everyone needs to make healthy, nutritious, and safe meals.

Probably the best thing about OFL are the participants. They are eager to learn, like the hands on participation and ask many questions.

Another thing that I am very appreciative of OFL is the opportunity to share the knowledge that I have with others and hope that they in turn will share what they learn.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time other than cook?

A. In my spare time when not working or attending classes I help in the community as an American Red Cross volunteer and as a member of the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition help the city of Detroit maintain Historic Fort Wayne.

Q. Do you cook at home often? Do you have a tasty, budget-friendly, healthy recipe you’d like to share?

A. I cook at home every day. I am a proponent of the one pot meal, but don’t tell Mom! Apparently when I was younger I didn’t like any of my food touching and she would tease me that she was going to get me a plate with dividers! One of my favorite meals is cube steak, rice with mixed vegetables, side salad with red wine vinegar, and a glass of milk. This one meal provides food from all five food groups.

Mary’s Cube Steak, Rice with Mixed Veggies
Cube steak
Seasoned flour
Olive oil
Rice, any kind–white, brown, wild (Of course we’re going to advocate some whole grains!)
Low-sodium chicken broth
Frozen or fresh mixed veggies

The cube steak is already run through the store’s mechanical tenderizing process, but I either have them run it through a few more times or take it home and pound it out even thinner.
Dredge the meat in seasoned flour and fry it in a little olive oil until juices form on top, then turn over once. This only takes a few minutes since the meat is so thin, and the flour gives it a nice crisp coat.
I cook the rice (any kind – white, brown, wild) in low sodium chicken broth for flavor and add a medley of frozen (or fresh) vegetables (beans, peas, carrots, corn etc).
(For the salad) The side salad consists of any vegetables and fresh fruit (or dried) I have in the fridge, a few nuts, and top it off with red wine vinegar or lemon juice.

June 4, 2010 at 1:09 am Leave a comment

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This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. This work is supported in part by the Michigan Department of Human Services, under contract number ADMIN-10-99011. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Michigan Fitness Foundation or the Michigan Department of Human Services. In accordance with Federal law and USDA policy, these institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720- 6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more contact the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline at (855) ASK-MICH. Space-Limited USDA/DHS/MNN Credit Statement This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. These institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. People who need help buying nutritious food for a better diet call the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline: (855) ASK-MICH.