Professional chefs visit schools to promote healthy eating

Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:30am EST
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By Suzi Parker

LITTLE ROCK, Ark (Reuters) - "Who likes granola?" chef Michael Selig yelled to the auditorium crammed with Arkansas elementary students.

The children screamed, "Me, me, me!"

Selig smiled. That's what he wanted to hear from the students at Forest Park Elementary School in Little Rock, especially during the glutinous holiday season.

Selig and Stephen Burrow are chefs at Forty Two, the restaurant attached to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center. The pair has adopted former President Bill Clinton's mission on healthy eating in their restaurant, and want to spread that message to children.

"If we change just one or two kids from drinking so much soda or picking up carrots instead of chips, we've done something good," Selig said.

"The holidays are synonymous with overindulging on rich food. We don't want to take away the fun in eating during the holidays, but we want to teach kids to make healthy food choices," he added.

The visit was part of a program that the two chefs have presented in schools once a month in central Arkansas. But as word spread of the visits, demand grew around the state, and the pair is now booked through the end of the school year.

The idea for the visits emerged after a successful culinary day camp last summer at the Clinton Center in which students made nutritious lunches, started an onsite garden and hosted a reception for family members and guests to showcase their new cooking skills. Each student received a chef's jacket.   Continued...