Culinary Creations in School Cafeterias

School District cafeteria staffs learn new ways to cook healthier lunches for students during Culinary Creations training.
School District cafeteria staffs learn new ways to cook healthier lunches for students during Culinary Creations training.

About 160 GCS school cafeteria workers are participating this summer in Culinary Creations, a food preparation and service training program where they gain valuable skills in nutrition, safety, cost control, production line and setup, and especially, the C.A.T.C.H. (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program.

C.A.T.C.H. is a school health program that promotes physical activity and healthy food choices. In the classroom, students learn about GO (Almost Anytime), SLOW (Sometimes), and WHOA (Once in a While) foods. As part of the C.A.T.C.H. program, school cafeterias are considered an extension of the classroom, where breakfast and lunch become opportunities for children to learn, practice, and adopt healthy eating habits.

Ron Jones, culinary specialist for Greenville County Schools, says the employees enjoy learning new techniques in food preparation. “They are somewhat overwhelmed at first because their world is going to be different. But after getting involved in the process, they are making the connection between food and student health, and are eager to learn new ways to prepare healthier foods,” he said.

They’re also learning to communicate about healthy choices as the children pass through the lunch line. If a student can choose between an apple and applesauce, and the student chooses the apple, the food service operator will applaud their choice with, “Congratulations, that’s the GO food!”

This fall, 31 Greenville County elementary schools will serve healthier lunches as part of the C.A.T.C.H. program. By teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun, the C.A.T.C.H. program demonstrates that establishing healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes that can last a lifetime.


Greenville organizations work together to make learning about children's health fun.

C.A.T.C.H. Makes Children's Health Fun!

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, in coordination with Greenville County Schools, LiveWell Greenville, and other organizations, is the first children’s museum nationwide to present a traveling exhibit of the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (C.A.T.C.H.) program.

The interactive and child-focused area will be available to TCMU visitors through September to promote physical activity, healthy food choices, and prevention of tobacco use. Five Greenville County Schools physical education teachers who are trained in C.A.T.C.H. principles are employed by the museum this summer to oversee the C.A.T.C.H. exhibit, lead the C.A.T.C.H. games and lessons, and encourage healthy food choices in the Culinary Creations kitchen.

“Children can put together their own food choices on a plate as they learn about the C.A.T.C.H. themes of GO (Almost Anytime), SLOW (Sometimes), and WHOA (Once in a While) foods,” said Comprehensive Health Education Consultant Penny Bostain. By teaching children how eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun, the C.A.T.C.H. program demonstrates that establishing healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes that last a lifetime.

Currently, the C.A.T.C.H. program is used in about 60 elementary and middle schools in Greenville County, impacting more than 50,000 students.

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Friday, June 29, 2012