August 2 2010, 11:02 AM
The nation's school lunch ladies (and lunch guys) are trading in their hairnets for chef's hats. As The Associated Press writes, the makeover is less about image and more about a shift in the culture of making food for kids. As childhood obesity rates remain high, more thought is going into the culinary skills of the brigades of workers in schools who prepare the food that is served. "It's more work to cook from scratch, no doubt," says Dawn Cordova, a longtime school cafeteria worker attending Denver Public Schools' first cooking-from-scratch training session this summer. Cordova is among 40 employees spending three weeks wielding a knife on fresh (rather than canned) fruits and veggies and learning the healthier points of food prep, such as the benefits of grass-fed beef and of cutting produce into shapes that are fun for kids. Denver is among countless cities across the nation to focus on improving cafeteria food at a time when nearly one-third of kids in the U.S. are considered obese or overweight. Meanwhile, child and health advocacy groups in the state are lobbying officials in Washington to re-authorize funding of the nation's school lunch program--a bill that has an aim of "improving nutrition," writes INDenverTimes.