ODE hosts culinary training at HRVHS

Schools from around the state, including Hood River, Mosier, Phoenix, Union and Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC), gathered on Aug. 17 at Hood River Valley High School for a culinary lesson by Child Nutritional Specialist Jessica Visinsky, Oregon Department of Education.

The lessons are hosted five times a year in various parts of the state, said Crista Hawkins, RDN, LD, director of youth wellness with Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, a partner of ODE.

“We offer training regionally so professionals don’t have to travel,” she said. The purpose is to get nutrition specialists together to glean ideas, try new recipes, network and “spark innovation,” she said.

Visinsky demonstrated how to prepare 15 recipes that are being introduced in schools. Afterwards, the group was able to sample each.

Many of the recipes Visinsky featured — which included “Presto Pesto Chicken Sando,” “El Carne Loco” and “Screaming Eagle Muffin Tops” — are from the Oregon State University Food Heroes program. Lauren Kraemer, OSU Extension Service assistant professor of practice, explained that the Food Hero dishes are tested by OSU students before being posted to the website and are additionally ranked by elementary children who try them in school.

This year’s Food Heroes program, which runs at Mid Valley, Parkdale and Cascade Locks elementary schools, will feature new recipes for kids to try and vote on, she said.

“Reach out to your Extension partners,” she told those gathered. “We love working with school partners.”

Kraemer said OSU is also working with food pantries and Department of Human Services offices to bring recipes to those who utilize those services.

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