ACF Chefs
Move Chefs Move to Schools Web Stories

ACF chefs are making a difference and fighting childhood obesity in communities throughout the U.S. Here are some of their stories and photos.

If you are an ACF chef involved in the Chefs Move to Schools program, we want to hear from you. Please take a moment to share your story with us.

Watch Michelle Obama's address to chefs
Watch Michelle Obama’s address to chefs at the White House, June 4, 2010.
View photos of ACF chefs
View photos of ACF chefs at the Chefs Move to Schools kickoff event.

Chefs Deihl & Asata

Drew’s kindergarten classes attended the Chefs Move session on September 11. This month, Chef Asata, a Drew parent and a wonderful chef, joined Chef Deihl to present the benefits of fresh fruit and yogurt dip to the six kindergarten classes. The students had a great time learning about protein and calcium and the good things that they do for muscles and bones. The pears and yogurt dip were a hit, too!

We look forward to the session for the rest of the grade levels in the coming months. Thanks Chefs Deihl and Asata!

ACF National Member
Thomas J. Sacksteder, CEC
LaCrosse, Wis.

Chef Thomas Sacksteder, CEC, from LaCrosse, Wis., received an ACF Chefs Move to Schools grant. Sacksteder used the funds to support his partner Sand Lake Elementary School’s farm-to-school education assembly.

Kristin Swaggart & Students
Chef Kristin Swaggart, CC, answers elementary students’ questions during a farm-to-market health fair in Richland, Wash.

ACF Northwest Wine Country Chapter
Chef Kristin Swaggart, CC
Richland, Wash.

Chef Kristin Swaggart, CC, is very busy volunteering for Chefs Move to Schools. Richland School District’s school nutrition staff wants the entire district involved in the program and they are eagerly partnering with Chef Swaggart to provide their students a nutrition education to brag about.

Chef Swaggart and Denise Christensen, nutrition services director for Richland School District work together to plan student health fairs, class assemblies and recipe competitions and partner with other organizations like Fuel Up to Play 60 to provide variety in their events.

Chef Swaggart performs monthly visits to grades kindergarten to sixth and hosts assemblies with the help of the school district’s nutrition staff. Together, Chef Swaggart and the food service nutrition professionals reach out to each classroom in hope of teaching the students something new and exciting about the abundance of healthy food choices they have.

Swaggart and Christensen also kicked off a farm-to-market fair at two elementary schools where students—in an outdoor setting—were introduced to different foods and ideas for healthy eating. Students were able to visit booths and listen to mini lectures geared to kid’s interests through the use of visual materials. For example, at Chef Swaggart’s station a toy Lamborghini car was used to demonstrate the importance of “fueling” the body with healthy foods. Students were also quizzed on their food knowledge and were encouraged to ask questions.

The entire Chefs Move to Schools experience has been very rewarding for Richland, Wash. The school district including its staff and parents has become inspired and motivated to eat healthy and get moving. Everyone had a sense of pride for what their kids were able to accomplish and are looking forward to many more great events.

Kelley Robasco, La Mesa Dale Elementary School principal, and Chefs de Cuisine of San Diego member Cynthia Meyers

Chefs De Cuisine of San Diego
Culinary Student Cynthia Meyers
San Diego, Calif.

La Mesa Dale Elementary School and culinary student Cynthia Meyers from the American Culinary Federation Chefs de Cuisine of San Diego recently organized a student health fair to launch their Chefs Move to Schools partnership.

Volunteers from community organizations partnered with the elementary school to show students and their families that a healthy lifestyle is fun and delicious. Pharmacology students from the University of California offered free health screenings while other volunteers provided face painting, Zumba classes and games that promoted physical activity. Students and families fueled their activity-filled day with healthy snacks donated by Specialty Produce of San Diego. The Chefs de Cuisine of San Diego also provided organic tangerines and tangelos along with pretzels, yogurt and bottled water as well as a cheese tasting contest. The kids and their families couldn’t get enough of the fresh and healthy snacks. One student confessed that this was her first time trying raw vegetables!

Chefs from the ACF chapter are working with the school staff and principal, Kelley Robasco, to promote healthy snacks to its students during the school year. Promoting healthy eating is important to the school employees because many of La Mesa Dale’s students rely on the school for 75 percent of their meals. The elementary school offers breakfast and lunch to its students during the week and partnered with the local Lutheran Church Ministries to ensure students and their families have meals on the weekends.

ACF North Carolina Chapter
Charlotte, N.C.

The American Culinary Federation North Carolina Chapter has partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Child Nutrition Services to bring the Chefs Move to Schools program to schools across the district. Sterling Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., enjoyed a special event on Jan. 30 presented by the ACF North Carolina Chapter members. Claudia Cauliflower, Bradley Blueberry and Tommy the Tomato were introduced to students to help demonstrate the importance of choosing a colorful plate when making meal selections at school and home. Chefs discussed the importance of fruit and vegetables in the students’ diets and demonstrated how to meet dietary goals when eating lunch at school. After the event the chefs and cafeteria manager accompanied students through the lunch line and encouraged them to make healthy lunch choices by creating a colorful plate.

“We were thrilled to welcome the team of chefs to Sterling,” said Principal Beth Wardy. “Positive choices are often about familiarity and education…the children were so excited to touch, feel and eat yams that were pulled fresh from the ground!”

ACF North Carolina Chapter members present, pictured left to right: Philip Lloyd, CEC, chapter president; Jean-Pierre Marechal; Jason Wolf; Jason Ziobrowski, CEC; and Karl Hoffman.

Chef Timothy Bucci, CEC, CCE
Associate Professor
Joliet Junior College
Orlando Park, Ill.
ACF Louis Joliet Chapter

Chef Timothy Bucci visited 120 kindergartners, first- and second-graders at Newark Grade School in Newark, Ill. to talk and demonstrate to the students about healthy eating. Chef Bucci was greeted with enthusiasm and some very vegetable savvy students eager to participate in his cooking demonstration.

The children were excited to touch, see and taste the food items Chef Bucci brought to the school. He was even able to encourage some students to eat vegetables they had never tried before. Bucci reinforced the children’s interest about healthy foods with the help of a familiar and all-time favorite children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Many of the children agreed it is important to eat fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, while a few still held to the belief that the only reason to eat fruits and vegetables was because they are forced by their parents. But Chef Bucci was able to convey the importance of eating fruits and vegetables by relating proper nutrition to the children’s interests and its importance in keeping us healthy during the winter, especially when playing in the snow.

Chef Bucci’s presentation received strong participation from the students and created excitement about cooking and healthy eating. He looks forward to returning to the school for further demonstrations.

ACF Professional Chefs/Cooks Association of Rochester
Rochester, N.Y.

The ACF Rochester, N.Y., chapter’s Chefs Move to Schools program finished its pilot year with great success. The chapter partnered with Foodlink, the local food bank, and the Rochester Prep Charter School. With a team of seven committed ACF chefs and a Foodlink volunteer they were able to reach over 200 students, ranging from fifth to eighth grades. The children were allowed to work with the chefs during school demonstrations to help prepare smoothies and breakfast burritos from scratch. The chefs taught students healthy cooking techniques, sanitation and development of flavors, and the Foodlink volunteer educated the children on the importance of fiber, fruits and vegetables and how to make good food choices. The demonstrations were so popular students are asking for blenders as Christmas presents.

Chef Michael McGreal, CEC, CCE, CHE, MCFE
Department Chair
Joliet Junior College
Orlando Park, Ill.
ACF Louis Joliet Chapter

Chef Michael McGreal’s recent visit to the White House for the launch of the Chefs Move to Schools initiative inspired him to develop his Chef for a Day program. The program pairs culinary students and chefs with local school children allowing the children to become honorary chefs for the day. The children learn nutritional cooking techniques and how to make healthy food choices.

“The Chefs Move to Schools program allows us to help kids that just need a little direction, guidance and motivation to get healthy,” McGreal said. “We can’t sit back anymore and hope this epidemic just goes away. The potential for greatness and opportunity should be what continually increases for our nation’s kids, not their waistlines.” Source:

Chef McGreal’s next project is filming a pilot cooking show for kids with a local PBS station in the Chicago area.

Gretchen Zegarra
Executive Chef
Morrison Health Care Food Service
Culver City, Calif.

Chef Gretchen Zegarra visited El Rincon elementary school in Culver City, Calif. and introduced delicious, healthier eating habits to its students. Chef Zegarra focus was teaching the students about whole grains and introducing the concept to the children. Chef Zegarra created interest in healthy eating through her roving table filled with a bountiful display of squash, vegetables and grains, allowing the children to actually taste, touch and see what they had learned. The demonstration was supported by educational materials and a coloring sheet. The students enjoyed the samples of roasted pumpkin seeds and exploring the “guts” of the pumpkin.

David Gurdus
Executive Chef
Pinnacle Health System
Lebanon County, Pa.
ACF Harrisburg Chapter

Chef Gurdus is working with the 7th grade class at Northern Lebanon Middle School in establishing a Beginners Cooking Club to promote awareness of well balanced healthy food choices. There will be 8 monthly meetings from October 2011 to May 2012 and at least one food item will be prepared during the meeting. Parents are also encouraged to participate.

As our nation faces the largest crisis of childhood obesity in our history, our local chefs began their own crusade at Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta’s East Lake community.

Chef Michael Deihl and Chef Karen Patton recently adopted Charles R. Drew Charter School in the Chefs Move to Schools program, spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama in her Let’s Move! program. Chef Deihl, the Executive Chef at East Lake Golf Club and Chairman of the Board for the American Culinary Federation Greater Atlanta Chapter, has always had a passion for healthy cooking and for giving back to his community. Combine his love for children and a true belief in their future, and you have a winning recipe! As part of the East Lake community, Chef Deihl and the East Lake staff follow the incredible example set by Mr. Tom Cousins and the CF Foundation of giving back to the community through the work of the East Lake Foundation. Each and every member of the East Lake family has a strong commitment of giving back to their community.

Chef Karen Patton received her culinary training from Atlanta Technical College and has had her own catering business for nearly five years. Chef Karen has joined the Chefs Move to Schools initiative working with Drew Charter School and has formed a nonprofit organization that focuses on educating seniors, diabetics and children on nutrition and the benefits of local growing.

Also assisting with the Chefs Move to Schools program is Tracy Nailor. Tracy, a pediatrician, appeared on Gordon Ramsey’s Master Chef program this past season. Tracy has a child in kindergarten at Drew, and will be involved as a chef in Drew program.

The first Chefs Move session, as part of the Healthy You, Healthy Drew initiative was held on Wednesday, August 24th at Drew Charter with more than 60 Pre-K students and their teachers attending. The topic: peaches and reducing sugar in our food choices. The students sampled fresh peaches and a reduced sugar dessert made with peaches and sugar-free Jell-O. They also learned about eating fresh fruit as part of their daily meals.

“Handing a child a piece of fresh fruit they have never seen before and watching them take that first bite is as humbling a culinary experience as there is. If your eyes are not watering after that, you are not a true chef at heart.” —Chef Michael Deihl

Monthly sessions are planned for the entire school year at Drew Charter School, as Chef Deihl and Chef Patton make a difference right here in our local community!

Orange County Publics Schools and ACF Partner for Better Nutrition

In September 2010, 11 ACF chefs in Florida were paired with select public schools in Orange County, Fla., the nation’s 10th largest school district, for a Chefs Move to Schools pilot program. Read more about how these chefs are leading the way in the fight against childhood obesity and are bringing positive changes to America’s school foodservice programs.

Paul O’Toole, CEC, AAC
Executive Chef
Deerfield Golf and Tennis Club
Newark, Del.
ACF Philadelphia Chapter

Since Paul O’Toole’s visit to the White House with ACF in June, he has hosted monthly Chefs Move to Schools demonstrations at UrbanPromise in Wilmington, Del. During his visits, he talks about the origins of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, the effects of food on the body performance, and hosts hands-on demonstration with students ages 7–14. Catherine Dolan, head of school, also says children are beginning to suggest healthier selections at the grocery store.

Robert Corliss
Executive Chef and founder of ATE (All Things Epicurean)
Century Elementary School
Nixa, Mo.
ACF National Chapter

Chef Corliss taught “Incredible Edibles” to a kindergarten class. The students had a blast experiencing new and unique fruits and vegetable such as spaghetti squash, purple potatoes, artichokes, baby bananas, star fruit, tomatillos, purple and yellow carrots, and fresh popcorn which is popped right on the actual cob.

Robert Corliss
Executive Chef and founder of ATE (All Things Epicurean)
Pleasant View Elementary
Springfield, Mo.
ACF National Chapter

Farmer Curtis Millsap and Chef Corliss have created a greenhouse and culinary program to teach elementary school children how to compost, plant, tend to and harvest their crops. The students then come into the kitchen classroom to prepare, eat and enjoy their harvest. They work with the teachers to apply the greenhouse/culinary teachings to math, science, art, language etc.

Robert Corliss
Executive Chef and founder of ATE (All Things Epicurean)
Goddard Preschool School
Springfield, Mo.
ACF National Chapter

Raised beds and pocket gardens were built at the preschool and the pre-schoolers are taught an appreciation for nature, where their food comes from and to have fun in the garden. The students pick the crops and flowers and then taste and explore the items in the classroom.

Northwest Elementary School
Hudson, Fla.
ACF Tampa Bay Culinary Association Inc.

The chapter worked with the school principal and 2 third grade classes to establish a sustainable vegetable garden and compost pile. The importance of vegetable in their daily diet will be incorporated into the third grad curriculum. The chefs supplied 62 large pots filled with organic soil and along with the American Legion and the New Port Richey Garden Club, they assisted the students in planting 19 varieties of vegetables and five different herbs. There will also be a special container in the school cafeteria solely for green waste for the compost pile.

Andy Bacigalupo
Culinary Instructor
Bay Arenac ISD Career Center
Bay City, Mich.
ACF Flint/Saginaw Valley Chapter

The Bay Arenac ISD Career Center has started a garden, developed a healthier cafeteria menu and offer fresh fruit smoothies to all students. The center has also appointed a new committee to oversee all school nutrition activities called Team Nutrition. Upcoming events for the center include a Wellness Fair featuring demonstration, food tastings, school wide cardio activities, weight loss challenge and a Chefs Move to Schools presentation to the Women’s AAUW group of Midland.

Update, Sept. 2011: The garden was a huge success and it produced over 1500 pounds of fresh produce which was donated to food banks and rescue missions in the community.

Bradley Labarre, CEC
General Manager
Pingree School/Sodexo
South Hamilton, Mass.
ACF Professional Chefs of New Hampshire

Chef Labarre visited two local schools to offer nutrition information and culinary demonstrations. At Pinewood Elementary, he showed fourth graders the nutritional and taste difference between store bought food and made from scratch items such as pesto and pasta. This spring, Chef Labarre will work with the schools to plan a garden and using the produce for future demonstrations and serving to the students. At Davidson Middle School, Chef Labarre worked with the students on knife skills, basic cooking practices and discussed healthier food choices.

Donald McMillan, CEC, AAC
Chef Instructor
The Stocked Pot Cooking School
Winston-Salem, N.C.
ACF Triad Chapter NC

Chef McMillan conducted a cooking class for the staff of the Downtown Health Plaza in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the residents of the surrounding community. The class was to teach everyone how to cook the fresh produce from the Goler Community Garden which was established to make healthy eating more accessible to everyone in the community. Download healthy recipes (1.07 MB) used by Chef McMillan.

David A. Smith, CCC
Associate Professor
Johnson County Community College
Overland Park, Kan.
ACF Greater Kansas City Chefs Association

Working with the children ages 2½ to 6 at the Hiersteiner Child Development Center, David Smith makes sure children learn about the food process, from seed to planting to production. An unheated greenhouse called a “hoop house” is used to grow fruits and vegetables year-round. Every child comes to the greenhouse once a week where they gain exposure to foods they may not otherwise be eating. There is a list of chores and child-sized wagons and tools. They have also planted 20 fruit trees and have plans for a nearby potting shed.

Brian Peffley, CEPC, CCE
Pastry-Arts Instructor
Lebanon County Career & Technology Center
Lebanon, Pa.
ACF Harrisburg Chapter

Brian Peffley has several Chefs Move to Schools projects on the horizon. He is planning an open forum for all south central Pennsylvania school foodservice directors, members of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, PA preferred (produce), Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, food purveyors, local farmers and ACF Harrisburg Chapter to formulate ideas on what can be done for the children in central Pennsylvania. Peffley will also be visiting Hershey Middle School as part of a General Mills conference in early November to talk about nutrition and baking healthy in schools.

Joel Schaefer, CCC
Allergy Chefs, Inc.
Jacksonville, Fla.
Chefs de Cuisine Association of Hawaii Honolulu

Joel Schaefer signed on to work with the J. Allen Axson Montessori School in Jacksonville, Fla., to start container gardens in each classroom. The food grown will be used as part of a cooking class where the children will participate in food preparation.

Michael Speranza, CEC
Corporate Chef, Eastern Region
Custom Culinary, Inc.
Victor, N.Y.
ACF Professional Chefs/Cooks Association of Rochester

As a part of the Chefs Move to Schools initiative, Michael Speranza works with students at Victor schools in their gardens. He recently joined them for some weeding and returned later that week to teach them how to make a basil pesto, finishing off the night with a pesto feast. Speranza also plans to do cooking demonstrations in the classroom, perhaps featuring Indian dishes in a class that is learning about India.

Thomas Trevethan, CEPC
Pastry Chef
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Las Vegas
ACF Chefs Las Vegas

Thomas Trevethan and the non-profit organization Create A Change Now is working with elementary school children to plant edible gardens. The goal is to educate children on where their food comes from and to get them involved in the process-from the ground, to harvest and preparation to the dinner table.