Members of the Joliet Junior College Culinary Arts Department have helped shape the way school nutrition professionals in Indiana cook healthy meals.
Chef Michael McGreal, culinary arts department chair, worked with the Indiana Department of Education’s School and Community Nutrition office to educate professionals on ways to create tastier, healthier meals in their schools. The A+ Healthy School Meals initiative took place over a two-week period in June. McGreal taught two of eight total sessions.
“The state of Indiana is very progressive when it comes to preparing and serving wholesome meals to their school children,” he said. “These trainings exposed food service workers to professional knife and cooking techniques as well as a huge toolbox of healthy recipes.”
Participants were able to practice recipes presented by McGreal, who sought to put a tastier spin on traditional healthy foods used in school cafeterias. He also taught proper cooking techniques, like knife skills. McGreal is an expert on proper knife techniques, having written a textbook on the topic.
He was asked to participate because of his passion for working with children and his culinary expertise.
A recent JJC culinary arts graduate, Emma Jo Prucha, also took part in the Culinary Skills for A+ School Meals program. She was hired as a summer intern. Prucha traveled around the state for all of the trainings. She helped set up and managed logistics for each session, receiving products and managing ingredients for the recipes.
Cathy Powers, one of the training’s organizers, said that Prucha did a great job and was a wonderful addition to the program.
“We were delighted to have Chef McGreal and Emma on our training team this summer!”
McGreal said he was very appreciative of the opportunity to work with the nutrition professionals.
“To see how dedicated these food service workers are to the children they serve is heartwarming and inspiring,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to have been involved in this Culinary Skills for A+ School Meals initiative.”
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