Celebrity chefs are serving a new menu of healthy meals for NYC's school children

WABC logo
Thursday, October 26, 2023
Celebrity chefs help serve healthy meals to NYC's school children
Kemberly Richardson has more on the city's efforts.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Public School lunch is getting a taste lift, courtesy of a few celebrity chefs.

In partnership with Wellness in the Schools, the Education Department launched the first-ever Chefs Council, featuring celebrity chefs, culinary industry professionals, and food activists who are all guiding the school lunch menu.

The new menu includes dishes like Caribbean spiced jerk chicken and pineapple rice medley, which reflect the city's rich cultural diversity.

"I have parents coming to my school and saying, 'What are you giving my kids? They're loving what you're doing," said Chef Jackie Simmons.

The goal is to give kids tasty, but also healthy options.

"We're really looking at bringing in culture, bringing in flavor and maintaining health standards," said Kate MacKenzie of the NYC Office of Food Policy. "We are rolling them out, training chefs in every city school to be able to prepare these delicious meals."

The Office of Food and Nutrition Services teamed up with local chefs and started with more than 100 recipes before narrowing it down to 11.

Members of the press were invited for a food taste testing experience on Thursday at the NYCPS test kitchen in Long Island City, where some of the nutritious and culturally appropriate dishes currently being serviced in schools were served.

Kidney bean rajma and jollof cauliflower sound like menu options at a high-end restaurant, but they're just some of the many dishes created by the culinary masters.

This entire process wasn't just about adults making the decisions.

Each and every meal serviced in public school cafeteria is kid tested and approved.

The children are brutally honest, not just 'yuck' or 'yum,' rather if something is way too spicy, weirdly crunchy or simply off or worthy of two enthusiastic thumbs up.

"The kids are like, 'Wow, this is really delicious," said Simmons.

While the gold standards remain - burgers, pizza and plenty of salad - this new menu offers kids a chance to step outside of their comfort zone and just maybe fall in love with something new.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More New York City news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.