Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013

Graham Foundation Equips Kitchen Used for Culinary CreationsA $50,000 gift by The Graham Foundation means that a kitchen used by the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College to train cafeteria workers from Greenville County Schools is now fully equipped. The money was used to purchase ranges, ovens, refrigerators, and cutting equipment.

Culinary Creations was conceived in 2009 by Ron Jones, culinary specialist for Greenville County Schools, and Eileen Staples, the school district’s director of Food and Nutrition Services, as a way to replace canned, pre-packaged institutional food in school cafeterias with fresh, locally sourced, nutritious dishes that kids want to eat.

Cafeteria workers are trained to make the switch in the kitchens of the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Tech’s Northwest Campus. Under the guidance of lead instructor Chef Patrick Wagner, they learn how to purchase, store, and prepare unprocessed foods, replacing traditional school menu options with dishes such as pizza with whole grain crust, veggie tacos, and tomato chickpea soup.

Many of these employees formerly were required only to open and heat pre-prepared foods. Now they are learning to create food from scratch. One day of their training, for example, focuses on salads. Everything including the dressings is freshly prepared, and selections include hummus, Mediterranean salad with couscous, Asian chicken salad, edamame succotash salad, and hot slaw with Thai dressing.

Training consists of 20 hours in the classroom and 20 hours in the kitchen over the course of a week in the summer. To date, 325 people from all of the school district’s 51 elementary schools have completed the training. Cafeteria workers from middle schools will complete training in 2014, and high schools will send cafeteria workers for instruction in 2015.

The initiative is designed to impact the childhood obesity problem in Greenville County, where 41 percent of all children are considered to be overweight according to the Piedmont Health Foundation. In addition, over 23 % of South Carolina’s children live below the poverty line according to Harvest Hope Food Bank, making it especially important that food consumed at school be nutritionally sound.

The Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College provides students with basic food knowledge and culinary techniques for classical and current trends. All courses are built from a foundation of competencies required for American Culinary Federation accreditation. Certificate and degree level programs are offered in both Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts. The state-of-the-art facility includes five kitchens, a room designed especially for ice carving, and the finest tools of the trade such as programmable combination ovens and blast chillers.

Press release provided by Greenville Technical College

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