by Andi Champion, Program Coordinator, CHEF
Scott Albach, PE Coach at Carroll Bell Elementary School in Harlandale ISD, first learned about CHEF when he attended our 2018 Conference for Educators, Driving Healthy Eating in San Antonio Schools. He had always been interested in health education and wanted to help his students make healthier choices, but wasn’t sure how to introduce nutrition messaging to his students. During the program, he sat next to Terri Pitts, a PE coach at Colonial Hills Elementary. After hearing Terri excitedly talk about bringing CHEF programming to her own elementary school and bouncing around ideas of how she would make it a success, Scott felt motivated and confident that he could do the same for his own students. Throughout the day he learned more about our simple approach to culinary medicine and left the conference with one goal in mind…to bring CHEF to his own school.
Fast forward seven months, and Scott’s students are on track to finish all eight CHEF Bites lessons, becoming one of the first CHEF-Approved schools in San Antonio. “I just think this is the best program. There’s something about the approach that breaks the barrier down. It forces students to try something new but in a way that’s familiar,” said Scott when asked about the success of the program at his school.
At Carroll Bell, CHEF is being taught to all second grade students (about 100 in total), with the help of three fifth grade Mayor’s Fitness Council Student Ambassadors. When deciding how to implement programming at his school, Scott knew he had to choose a grade that would be easily influenced and “open minded”. Another factor that came into play when choosing second graders was that their PE class was right before lunch giving Scott the hope that “students would go into their lunch hour being well informed and making better choices”.
We sat down with the three Mayor’s Fitness Council Student Ambassador’s, Tabitha, Rebecca, and Servando, to ask them about their experience with CHEF:
“I can try different recipes,” Tabitha shared excitedly. She and her twin sister Rebecca have also started, “exploring around in the kitchen and with recipes,” at their own home.
One of the biggest takeaways for Servando was learning how to “use a knife the safe way” using the “claw method” which was taught to him in his CHEF Student Ambassador training.
All three students shared that they enjoy teaching the younger children at their school how to make better choices to “help those that don’t eat healthy foods and love junk food.”
The second grade students look up to these fifth graders and Coach Albach and are more willing to try new foods when they see it being prepared by friendly faces. “There are so many examples of kids who are having realizations about things they’ve never tried before,” said Coach Albach. He reported that CHEF has helped his students understand where their food comes from and the effect it can have on their health.
“This is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of and the kids are excited about it. There’s no doubt about that. When they come into the gym on CHEF day, they can’t hold it in,” shared Coach Albach.
Carroll Bell plans to continue teaching CHEF in the upcoming semesters and hopes to eventually have a school garden that they can incorporate into classes. If you are interested in bringing CHEF to your school, please apply here: http://chefsa.org/platform