A Great Chef Makes the Difference: Summit’s Food Program

Most of us can probably remember the kind of school lunches we had as children. If lunch came from home, it was probably something along the lines of a generic sandwich and a fruit cup. The school-supplied lunches included such memorable cuisine as fish sticks and cardboard pizza.


Thankfully, Summit Kids Academy is different. When decision was made to move away from the parent-provided meals to school-provided meals and snacks, we did not want to have the standard offering of processed, fried and uninspiring meals. The challenge was to create a menu with healthy foods that the children would actually eat.


The Summit Kids Academy menu was developed based on 6 key concepts

  1. Nothing ready made or preprocessed
  2. Only use whole grains
  3. No red meat
  4. Low sugar content
  5. Use organic and local ingredients wherever possible
  6. Food has to taste great


Having developed the menu with a mix of familiar dishes with some healthy substitutions and unique dishes, the final piece of the puzzle was finding a chef that could bring the menu to life. We needed a chef who could thread a very challenging needle; creating healthy meals that the kids would enjoy.   We found that chef in John Reehill.


Every weekday, Chef John tackles the task of preparing lunch for well over 100 children, all of whom need to be served in a small window of time to keep on schedule. He manages to accomplish that feat with fresh, healthy ingredients served in creative and appetizing ways always adding his personal touch. There is no question that he pours tremendous energy and passion into this process, arriving early in the morning to prepare the morning snack and begin the work of transforming the vision of the Summit menu into reality.


The meals are simple and delicious but always have nutrition packed in. Whether it is our fish with whole grain rice and peas or whole-wheat macaroni and cheese made with cauliflower and broccoli, every meal easily surpasses all nutritional guidelines while satisfying the children. Even a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich is transformed into a sun butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, avoiding peanut allergy issue while providing a healthy, tasty sandwich.


The meals that really shine, however, are the dishes the children get to first experience at Summit Kids Academy. These dishes, such as zucchini bread, Florentine turkey meatloaf, and vegetable quiche are not just nutritious and scrumptious. These foods are an opportunity for children to explore the variety of flavors and combinations that exist.  Children at Summit learn, at a young age, that food doesn’t need to be covered in frosting or soaked in grease to taste good. Lunchtime help us develop a positive image of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole wheat bread and tofu that, we hope, will encourage them to make healthy food choices as they grow.


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