Chef Helps Special Needs School Children Explore New Foods
Morning Star School for special needs children in Orlando, Fla., is enjoying a culinary experience they’ll never forget thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative and local Chef Jamie McFadden. To the student’s joy, McFadden visited the school and shared cooking projects that their team had just completed. Chef McFadden relayed that the children were a delight and engaged, as their time together focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, food safety, and sanitation practices. Thus far, the students have explored apples and pumpkins, and have learned about the history and origins of the foods they enjoy.
“The part of this project that has been so fulfilling for me and my assistant, Tracy Potter, is that these kids all have special needs,” the chef said. “However when it comes to cooking, they know more about food and have more interest in learning new recipes and techniques than some adults I have taught.”
McFadden became interested in “Chefs Move to Schools” when he Googled First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, where he was promptly connected to the Morning Star School. McFadden said if there were more hours in the week they would truly enjoy reaching out to other schools. It is also his hope that more chefs come on board and take the time to share their passion with schools.
Morning Star School has three hanging and four raised gardens where the children learn about planting and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables on their own.
“These gardens and Chef McFadden have made a big difference for these children making them more aware of fresh fruits and vegetables. These programs have had a big influence on them eating healthier versus eating junk food,” said Kary Muller, a special needs teacher at Morning Star. Muller added, because of these initiatives, one student even asked her about cumquats.