School contest puts spotlight on breakfast

Kelsey Nimmons drizzles the topping over her Apple Cinnamon Grands during the Breakfast Recipe & Cook-Off Contest at Lincoln Middle School.

MATT STAMEY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.

Picky eaters are the bane of parents’ existence and apparently the Nutrition and Food Services Department in the Alachua County Public Schools, too.

And just like parents, the officials in the nutrition and food services department work hard to find creative ways to entice children into eating healthy foods.

So, in conjunction with National Breakfast Week, two middle schoolers — Kelsey Simmons, an eighth-grader at Kanapaha Middle School, and Sophia Walker, a sixth-grader at P.K Yonge Developmental Research School — faced off in the school district’s Breakfast Recipe & Cook-Off Contest, held last Wednesday at Lincoln Middle School.

Another contestant, Ann Bryan, a sixth-grader at Lincoln Middle School, couldn’t make the contest because of another engagement.

Kelsey’s “Apple Cinnamon Grands” won the contest and her recipe will be featured on the school menu and highlighted on the nutrition and food services website, Facebook and Twitter. Kelsey received a basketball signed by all of the players on the Orlando Magic NBA team. The recipe featured dried apple chips, biscuit dough, cinnamon and other items. She described her recipe as a makeover of her grandfather’s monkey bread recipe.

Sophia’s recipe, “Fall-Time Surprise,” featured pancakes with pecans, grated apples, pumpkin spice and other items. She said she chose the recipe because, “I like fall, I like pancakes, I like apples and pecans, and I like cooking,” she said.

Both Kelsey and Sophia want to be chefs, and during the competition, both girls showed they have the right stuff to make their dreams a reality as they whipped up their breakfast recipes with confidence — all under the supervision of Moss Crutchfield, food service manager and department chef.

Crutchfield said it is great to see children excited about the cooking profession.

“I think they (the recipes) were wonderful,” Crutchfield said. “They both have a lot of passion, and encouraging them is the best thing we can do.”

To be considered for the contest, Sophia and Kelsey submitted detailed recipes with food groups and instructions, including cooking and preparation time and equipment needed.

The completed dishes were then served to the judges and those attending the event. The contestants were judged on taste, texture, creativity, presentation and overall appeal.

Eunshil McKenna, food service dietician and supervisor, said the contest served as a way to increase student participation in eating breakfast, which is often less than eating lunch.

“This is a way to encourage students to be aware of how important breakfast is,” McKenna said. “This contest got students thinking about breakfast items and eating healthy.”

Organizer of the event was Shereka O’Neal, food and nutrition services specialist in the public schools.

“We want to highlight that eating a healthy breakfast helps them do well in school,” said O’Neal.

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