Published on May 25th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


District Five fourth graders showcase cooking skills in ‘Chopped’-style competition

Pictured H.E. Corley Elementary fourth graders Shekinah Hill, Tyra Jefferson, Kalanyia Lindsay and Joe Evans won District Five’s Choppedcooking contest.

CHAPIN – What sort of meal can you prepare with kale, extra lean turkey ham, strawberries and milk? Fourth grade students from Lexington-Richland School District Five made preparing a healthy, well-balanced meal from those and other ingredients look like child’s play, as part of the district’s annual Chopped cooking contest.

The event was held at Spring Hill High School as part of District Five’s Farm to Five grant to highlight the importance of providing fresh, healthy ingredients in school cafeterias. Modeled after the popular Food Network show Chopped, ten teams prepared a soup and side dish using a recipe, pantry items and ingredients that were undisclosed to contestants prior to the competition.

The students were judged on several criteria, including presentation and taste. With the highest presentation scores of the contest, the H. E. Corley team of fourth graders Shekinah Hill, Tyra Jefferson, Kalanyia Lindsay and Joe Evans won this year’s contest. They will represent the district at a statewide cooking contest at the South Carolina State Fair in October.

District Five Student Nutrition Director Todd Bedenbaugh said, “The goals of our contest were to have fun and have our students think about the importance of proper nutrition. Fresh ingredients like the ones used in our Chopped competition are being used in District Five cafeterias each school day. The competition is a great way to spotlight the quality ingredients we serve and the efforts we are taking to ensure that students know where their food comes from.”

Each team was given 45 minutes to create their meals and present it to a distinguished panel of judges that included: District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner, Free Times photographer and food writer Jonathan Sharpe, 4-H Midlands Agent Leona Parr, District Five Property Services Director Scott Carlin and Blue Marlin Signature Catering Owner Ryan Dukes. Sponsors included WP Rawls, Clemson Extension, General Sales and 4-H; and WISTV anchor Mary King served as host for the event.

“We wanted to make our meal healthy and something that was nice to look at,” said H. E. Corley Elementary student Tyra Jefferson, explaining her dish to the judges. “I tasted our dish, and I thought it tasted pretty good.”

District Five’s Farm to Five program is part of a $100,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant the district received in 2013 to provide educational opportunities for students and teachers, bolster school gardening programs, and implement more local foods into district cafeterias.  In addition to the Chopped competition, the district’s Farm to Five program has included summer training for cafeteria staff, teacher and staff field trips to local farms, and upgrades to several school gardens.

Teams represented in this year’s contest included: Chapin Elementary, Dutch Fork Elementary, Harbison West Elementary, H. E. Corley Elementary, Irmo Elementary, Lake Murray Elementary, Leaphart Elementary, Oak Pointe Elementary, River Springs Elementary and Seven Oaks Elementary. Students were asked to create “Five Star Soup” using onions, celery, black-eyed peas, extra lean turkey ham, fresh kale and spices. Fresh fruits like strawberries and blackberries were presented as mystery ingredients for a side dish.

“The importance of using fresh ingredients and teaching our students about healthy food choices cannot be overstated,” Bedenbaugh said. “Through Farm to Five, we are able to hold events like Chopped and ensure that student nutrition is a priority in District Five.”


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