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  • Now Cooking: Chartwells K12 Debuts Food Education Curriculum Offering with Launch of New Mobile Teaching Kitchen


    Now Cooking: Chartwells K12 Debuts Food Education Curriculum Offering with Launch of New Mobile Teaching Kitchen

    Hands-on Cooking and Nutrition and Wellness Lessons Meet Curriculum Standards for Math, Science and Social Studies

    ​Effort Grounded in Philosophy that Hands-On Cooking and
    Food Education Can Create Healthy Change Among Kids and Adults


    Chicago, March 29, 2017 – Give kids healthy meals, and they'll eat healthy today. Teach kids to prepare, cook and taste delicious, healthy, foods and they may eat healthy for a lifetime. That's the lesson Chartwells K12 is offering schools with a new state-of-the-art Mobile Teaching Kitchen that combines cooking and curriculum to inspire, educate and drive healthful change across America.  


    In a recent study from Oregon State University, elementary school teachers cited insufficient time and lack of suitable curriculum as barriers to providing more nutrition education in the classroom. They also indicated that to be impactful and affect behavioral change in students, the lesson must extend beyond the classroom and into the homes. While there have been positive strides to address obesity and diabetes, it's more important than ever to support teachers and parents in instilling healthier eating habits in kids.


    The Mobile Teaching Kitchen was inspired by the work of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, of which Chartwells' parent company, Compass Group, is a founding corporate member-grantor. The Collaborative was launched in 2016 and is jointly led by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as an outgrowth of their partnership in the Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives® annual conference for medical professionals. This invitation- only network includes thought-leading organizations using teaching kitchen facilities to lead positive changes in nutrition-related behaviors through interactive cooking experiences in medical, corporate, and community settings. Chartwells K12 is taking that philosophy to its schools and communities to drive the same positive behaviors in today's youth and their families.


    "At Chartwells our role is to nourish students as well as empower them with the knowledge and skills for a lifetime of health," said Rhonna Cass, CEO of Chartwells K12. "We were inspired by the work of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative and are excited to partner with organizations like Pilot Light to bring a first of its kind food education experience to students across the country. The Mobile Teaching Kitchen gives us the ability to impact more schools and more kids as well as teach important life skills in a fun, innovative way."


    The Mobile Teaching Kitchen: Cooking and Curriculum

    The Mobile Teaching Kitchen is a custom designed shipping container that was built into a fully functioning kitchen. It houses 80 square feet of kitchen space, including a three-sided ADA-height kitchen countertop and five individual induction plates, and moves via truck from city to city to teach culinary skills and food education through an interactive chef- and dietitian-led cooking demonstration.


    The Mobile Teaching Kitchen curriculum builds on a broader education platform that Chartwells began exploring in 2016 when it partnered with Pilot Light. Cass said Chartwells was inspired by Pilot Light's research, and is working with them to develop the innovative, common-core aligned curriculum that weaves food into everyday subjects like math, science and social studies. For example, as a result of the Pilot Light program:

    • 88 percent of students said the curriculum made an impact on their food choice
    • 93 percent of students know their food choices today will affect their future health
    • 83 percent of students believe it's important to know where their food comes from


    Chartwells is also building the capacity for scale through distance learning using video technology that will virtually take its chefs out of the kitchen and into multiple classrooms to reach more young and hungry minds.


    Champions of the Mobile Teaching Kitchen

    Inspired by the work of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, Chartwells' team of chefs and dietitians have come together to create a truly unique food education for students:

    • Margie Saidel, MPH, RD, VP Nutrition & Sustainability, Chartwells K12
    • Whitney Bateson, MPH, RD, Director of Nutrition, Chartwells K12
    • Josh Perkins, Regional Executive Chef, Chartwells K12
    • RJ Harvey, RDN, CEC®, Regional Executive Chef, Chartwells K12


    "These novel programs being developed by Chartwells complement the work of the larger Teaching Kitchen Collaborative and will add to our shared exploration as to how teaching kitchen programs can be used to improve health related behaviors, enhance health outcomes and, ideally, lower costs for all.  Their focus on K-12 populations is particularly exciting and will add to the research capacity of the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative nationally," said David Eisenberg, Director of Culinary Nutrition and Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Co-Director, Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives® Conference; Co-Chair, Teaching Kitchen Collaborative


    To learn more about the Mobile Teaching Kitchen, visit: www.ellythemtk.com. The website also provides healthy recipes, culinary tips, cooking videos, and nutritional information.  


    About Chartwells K12


    Chartwells K12 provides dining programs for school districts, ranging from large public institutions to small charter and private schools, and prides itself on extending its dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm into serving each student delicious, great tasting meals. Chartwells K12 is built on decades of food and education experience and driven by top culinary, nutrition, wellness, and sustainability talent. For more information, visit http://www.ChartwellsK12.com/

    March 29, 2017