The Carter County Turning Point Coalition and Mercy Hospital Ardmore hosted Shape Your Menu! School Cafeteria Excellence Institute, a two-day workshop for cafeteria staff.

Cafeteria staff from the following schools attended — Ardmore, Dickson, Madill, Plainview, Springer, Greenville, Sulphur, Davis, Lone Grove, Ringling, Healdton, Zaneis, Fox and Wynnewood.

School cafeteria staff added to their knowledge and gained additional skills in order to make school food more appealing to students while incorporating new federal nutrition guidelines.

On Day 1, the workshop provided a review of the USDA guidelines for school meals; instruction in creative menu planning and time management, training on ways to implement Smarter Lunchroom principles, creative ideas for cafeteria décor and food safety.

On Day 2 of the workshop, attendees got the opportunity to practice what they learned by preparing new recipes. Children from HFV Wilson Community Center's Camp Funtastic were bused to the event and asked to partake in the meal served, and then rate the taste and appearance of the meals. Cafeteria staff also had a chance to network with other peers, and to identify next steps for their specific schools.

"Empowering cafeteria staff to be passionately involved in the health of our children is an integral part of a healthy Oklahoma going forward," said Charles Spencer, Mercy Hospital Ardmore executive chef.

Each school district received the book "Lunch Money" by Kate Adamick, and a guide to taste testing in schools. Included in the guide were step-by-step instructions for conducting classroom or cafeteria taste tests, taste test case studies and reproducible handouts.

For questions about the Shape Your Menu! School Cafeteria Excellence Institute, call Kristi Combes at 223-7075 x314.