Right before the Christmas holiday, I encountered the most challenging situation I’ve experienced as a chef….a day at the local high school. It was a very interesting day to say the least. In short time, I was able to pick out the students who were leaders and those who were followers. Unfortunately, it was the students who fell in “the middle” who were tougher to establish.
I had to find a way to relate with each of them in a different way in order to get them all to try Black Beans. It’s such a simple item (to me at least) but it was quite a sell to a 16-year-old that is all too comfortable with a fast food burger. I was able to take five students from 9th to 12th grade (that are part of the schools Nutrition Advisory Counsel) and grow their membership by double. We are going to take this group on the road with me in January and have them begin introducing healthy eating practices in the Middle School, as well.
In not so many words, I want them to help with an internal mentoring program. Teenagers have a unique ability to influence one another far more than I or any other adult really can. I am hoping for a trickle effect and will use the Middle School to assist with the intermediate level. And, the intermediate students can then work with the elementary school.
I spent a good amount of time with the district superintendent. She is a major supporter of this movement and has given full commitment to the idea of my presence throughout the district. She had mentioned that my getting involved has peaked so many and is beginning to spread like wild fire (I think the local press plays a larger role than I). I just need to keep today’s news from being yesterdays…
I hope you all enjoyed your holiday. Have a Happy New Year.
Chef Brian P Sterner, CEC