Chef Keith Comes to the Garden

Students in the Monticello School District earned a visit from a real live chef! When Chef Keith Sullivan heard about the District’s Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas Grant which is helping students eat healthier and move more, he offered to prepare a veggie stir fry at school so students could find out how good produce tastes. 

At both schools, Monticello Elementary and Monticello Intermediate, students challenged each other to taste their fruits and vegetables at lunch on a consistent basis over a week’s time. If enough students in a classroom consistently tried their fruits and veggies, they were rewarded with a visit to the chef.

At Monticello Intermediate School, Chef Keith set up a cooking station in the school’s learning garden where he had third through fifth grade students timing him to see how quickly he could chop a zucchini. The zucchini was stir-fried with rosemary from the students’ herb garden. To give the dish more flavor, Chef Keith added chopped collard greens grown in the garden. By the end of the day, students were begging him to fill their plate with more zucchini, asking for his autograph, writing him thank you notes and giving him thank you hugs. Chef Keith was even invited back to the MIS parent night where he showed parents how terrific stir-fried zucchini tasted.

At Monticello Elementary, the sizzle of Chef Keith’s wok got students in kindergarten through second grade excited about sampling yellow squash, onion and pepper combined in a stir fry. Teachers and students gathered to watch how quickly the wok cooked the vegetables. Throughout the day, students were begging for second and third helpings and asking for the recipe so they could have the same thing at home.

Classroom Challenges Help Monticello Students Make Healthy Eating Choices
Monticello Elementary Students are challenging each other to eat healthier. Students from participating classrooms join together to encourage each other to meet a specific healthy eating goal for a week. If a classroom meets the challenge, the students in that room are rewarded with a tasting party which features an easy-to-fix-in- the- classroom recipe.

The “Eat Your Breakfast Challenge” rewarded classrooms if at least 75% of students ate breakfast 3 out of the 5 days during the challenge. All the classrooms who participated met the goal!

The “Taste Your Fruits and Veggies Challenge” rewarded classrooms if at least 60% of students tasted their fruits and veggies at lunch time 3 out of 5 days. Students were heard making comments such as “I don’t usually eat green beans, but if it’s gonna help my class win, I’ll eat them today!”

The “Gobble Your Grains Challenge” got students interested in trying their whole grains. If at least 60% of students tasted their whole grain lunch selection for 3 out of 5 days, a classroom was rewarded. Because of this challenge, more students than ever tried their whole grain sandwich buns, pasta, dinner rolls and pinto beans.Tasting parties help student to be introduced to new foods in a positive way. Some of the classroom tasting party recipes that have been served are Trail Mix-featuring whole grain cereal and dried fruit bits; Banana Berry Smoothie-featuring yogurt, orange juice, bananas and berries and Veggie Roll Ups made from broccoli slaw, low fat Cheddar Cheese and Ranch Dressing served on a whole grain tortilla. These recipes all help students learn to enjoy more fruits and veggies and whole grains.