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  • Mobile kitchen stops at local middle school to promote healthy cooking

    A kitchen on wheels rolled into the bus parking lot of Heritage Middle School this week to help teach approximately 150 kids about healthy food choices over a three-day period.

    The mobile food kitchen named Elly is a part of Chartwells K12, an independent food service hired by Burke County Public Schools.

    Elly is a shipping container that “unfolds” into the mobile kitchen where professional dieticians and chefs with Chartwells help lead students in a cooking demonstration and lesson on culinary skills and food health education.

    “It comes with pretty much everything, but the food,” said Peggy Luther, district manager for Chartwells.

    Elly comes fully-equipped with stoves, a freezer, microwave, refrigerator, a hand-washing sink, food preparation tables for students to use , and TVs over the cooking areas hooked up to GoPro cameras for better viewing.​​

    “It is set up to where we have five different stations so we can have five groups … two on each side and one on the end (which) lets the kids participate,” Luther said.

    The kitchen is powered by a generator and is hooked up to the school’s water line to help operate the hand-washing sink, she said.

    Over the three day span the mobile kitchen was there, eighth - grade students at Heritage were brought out to experience Elly and prepare white bean chicken tacos with citrus avocado salsa.​​

    Every student dons an apron and cooks alongside the chef, learning how to press fresh tortillas and slice and sauté red onions. Students also learn how to select health y ingredients on their own and customize meals to their and their families’ preferences, said a press release from BCPS.

    “This introduces them to something different and outside of the box,” Luther said.​​

    During the lesson, Chef Jordan Keyser and Dietician Colette Tyler explained to students how the white beans are a good source of protein and how the citrus salsa included Vitamin C to help boost immune systems.

    They also learned how fruits rot due to oxidation and by putting lime juice on them, it slows down that process.

    After the students completed the meal and tasted their creations, they were able to take the recipe home and given the option to try to make it with their families, said Christa Turski, marketing manager with Chartwells.

    “It gives them confidence in starting to cook,” Turski said.

    To date, Elly has traveled more than 2,800 miles and cooked with nearly 2,200 students across the United States, with stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Jersey and now South Carolina, the release said.

    Culinary students in the career and technical education classes at East Burke High School and Draughn High School were recruited to help the younger students.​

    “We’re always searching for innovative ways to broaden our students’ education, both inside and outside the classroom,” said BCPS Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam. “The fun – and not to mention tasty – food education that Elly will provide helps our teachers, our parents and our community create a healthier future for our students.”

    A survey of participating students at Elly’s first two stops revealed positive outcomes that can impact students’ long-term food and health decisions, the release said.

    » Eight percent more students were very confident following a simple recipe.

    » Fifteen percent more students were very confident about preparing and cooking new foods and recipes.

    » Twenty-nine percent more students were very confident about being able to cook from basic ingredients.

    To learn more about Elly the Mobile Teaching Kitchen, visit www.ellythemtk.com.​​​

    The News Herald​

    November 22, 2017