NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City public schools are looking to develop plant-based recipes for students, and officials are enlisting a very famous celebrity chef to help out.
Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks on Tuesday announced the launch of the city's first-ever Chefs Council, in partnership with Wellness in the Schools (WITS), with Rachael Ray serving as council chair.
The council also includes well-known chefs, culinary industry professionals, and food activists.
"Teaching students at a young age to eat healthy, nutritious meals is critical to setting up them up for success," Adams said. "The new Chefs Council will develop delicious, nutritious, culturally relevant meals for schools with direct input from students and parents. Through this partnership with WITS and our tremendous staff of school food workers, we will take school meals to the next level."
The Chefs Council will develop scratch-cooked, plant-based, and culturally relevant recipes and provide hands-on training for the New York City Department of Education's Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS) chefs.
They will create over 100 recipes that will be tested in schools across all five boroughs during the 2022-2023 school year in partnership with the new OFNS Cook Ambassadors.
After feedback from students and parents, the recipes will be introduced as a monthly seasonal menu and the chefs will then train school cooks on implementing the new recipes onsite in all public school locations.
"Healthy and nourishing meals are essential in ensuring our students can succeed both inside and outside the classroom," Banks said. "This initiative will help to expand our menus while making sure they follow our strict health standards and are reflective of the cultures and communities we serve."
In partnership with local education departments, WITS has served more than 86,000 children in nearly 200 schools nationwide during the 2021-2022 school year.
In New York City, programs are currently implemented in 38 schools across the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
The launch of the Chefs Council will expand the programming presence to all DOE schools for the 2023-2024 school year.
The full list of Chefs Council members is as follows:
--Rachael Ray, Chefs Council chair, television personality, author, and philanthropist
--Zoe Adjonyoh, chef, author, and media personality
--Kenneth Collins, chef, Kemited Kitchen
--Ricardo Diaz, chef and registered dietitian nutritionist, Wellness in the Schools
--Tyler Harvey, senior director of research and development, Sakara
--JJ Johnson, chef and television host
--Anup Joshi, chief culinary officer, Green Top Farms
--Anita Lo, chef and restaurateur
--Grace Ramirez, chef, activist, author, and television personality
--Chef Anthony T. Solano, founder and owner, ZoJu, Afro-Latino Vegan Restaurant
--Bill Telepan, executive chef and board, Ember, Wellness in the Schools/Bon Appetit Culinary Director for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
--Marion Williams, national program director, Wellness in the Schools
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