Culinary class hosted statewide for school nutrition professionals

MSU Extension hosts Making Michigan Recipes Work, focusing on culinary skills needed to use more local produce in school meals

Photo credit: Mariel Borgman, MSU Extension

Photo credit: Mariel Borgman, MSU Extension

A series of hands-on workshops are being offered around the state by Michigan State University Extension to refresh or introduce participants to the preparation of whole foods, local fruits, and vegetables. The intended audience is K-12 school nutrition professionals, who have an interest in learning or sharpening their food preparation skills. One goal of offering these trainings is to increase the amount of local produce that schools are purchasing to serve in their meal programs. This local purchasing is also referred to as Farm to School.

The training covers basic skills and knowledge needed to incorporate more local produce into school meal programs. Participants will have the chance to learn and practice knife skills, proper washing procedures, food safety, and a variety of cooking techniques like roasting and making soups from scratch. Participants will also learn about food safety specific to local foods, seasonality of Michigan produce, seasonal menu planning, and tips and tricks to prepare local produce.

At each training, participants will make four recipes from scratch featuring local vegetables and fruits. At the conclusion of the training, everyone will share a meal from the food prepared, while learning strategies to market local and healthy food to their students.

The trainings will be taught by two seasoned professional trainers, with plenty of school experience. One trainer is a former food service director and the other is a long-time chef and professional development leader for school staff.

Upcoming trainings in October and November will be held in Benzonia, Kentwood, Okemos and Warren. All trainings are free to the public, because of the generous assistance of grant funding. Teams from schools and/or districts are encouraged to register together to maximize the benefits of the training.

Making Michigan Recipes Work is a project funded through a Specialty Crop Block Grant, a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program, administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.