Central New York, Community, Education, Food

Eating Healthy: The Main Course at ITC Syracuse

By Elissa Candiotti SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — During a busy day of history, English, and science classes, one main course remains the most memorable for students at The Institution of Technology Syracuse Central: culinary class. A number of high school students have been provided the opportunity to place an emphasis and focus on culinary arts throughout the year.

The culinary students receive guidance and constructive criticism for their teacher, a professional chef. (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

The program aims to teach children not only how to eat healthy, but how to cook healthy, too, Rachel Murphy, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Syracuse City District Schools said.

On the morning of Thursday, March 9th, the culinary students gathered in the cooking room for a rather special occasion… National Meatball Day. The students worked with one another to mix, mash, and make meatballs of all types with a special focus on ethnic flavors.

“The best part of the day was trying all the different meatballs,” student Josolyn Malone said. “Some were really good!”

Cooking meatballs is just one of the many unique food items on the menu for the culinary students. Throughout the school year, the students complete both math and science courses to prepare themselves for a cooking career.

Culinary students spent their lunch period trying out the variety of meatballs offered for National Meatball Day (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

“Since I was little, I was like obsessed with the kitchen,” sophomore Sharangely Echevarria said. “Like I always want to be in the kitchen and help out.”

This structured school program gives students like Echevarria the chance to do just that.

“This program is just another way we are encouraging students to give us feedback,” Murphy said. “What type of food would you like to see on the lunch menu?”

The National Meatball Day activities aligned with a new initiative that the Syracuse School District is emphasizing: healthy eating and nutritional options in the food programs at school. This comes at a time when food insecurity rates among children are extremely high. The United States Department of Agriculture released a new study that said one in five children lack reliable access to nutritious food.

New and healthy food items are constantly being introduced to students to raise awareness of good nutrition. (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

Among the wide variety of healthy options offered during breakfast, lunch, and snack in the school district, some include fat free milk, reduced fat milk, whole grain bread, and fruits and vegetables, Murphy said.

Student Ayesha Gregory said of all lessons her culinary classes have taught her, there is one that stands out most: “The school food could use more seasoning,” Gregory said. “But I can’t really complain. I’ll still eat it.”