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Fayetteville School District Chef Provides Lessons in Healthier Eating

He works with a local farm project that also offers families fresh produce to help change what they put on the dinner table.
While school cafeterias are often tasked with fighting childhood obesity, the cooks there provide less than a third of a child's meal year-round. That makes the home front the new frontier to fight fat.

So how can parents make the same healthy choices as a "trained chef"? One Northwest Arkansas non-profit is helping to bridge the gap.

Just one dollar. That's how much money Chef Adam Simmons is allowed to spend on each plate in Fayetteville school cafeterias.

"I always thought I was creative in the restaurant setting, but you've got to be really creative with a dollar," says Adam Simmons, the Child Nutrition Director for the Fayetteville Public School District.

Because school lunches are now packed full of health regulations and without a lot of dough this chef's got to deliver.

"Some people think that lunches have shrunk a little bit, but what has happened is actually lunches have grown but you have to make better choices to get full."

But a lot of kids are only forced to eat healthy at school, less than a third of their diet.

"It's hard to change habits," says Simmons.

"So how do you take healthy lunches and translate them at home? Head to The Farm, run by the Cobblestone Project in Fayetteville.

"We think it's important to teach and equip adults because they are the ones that instill those values and those day to day life trends for their kids," says Katelyn Graves, the Director of The Farm. "Families in the community can purchase a subscription to the farm and over 26 weeks they can receive fresh healthy produce grown here."

But it's more than food, they're addressing a much bigger need. Education.

"We're going to incorporate some recipes for families so when they receive cabbage or broccoli or snap peas, they know some fun ways to cook that and some yummy ways they can incorporate their family into that."

It's the niche that school cafeterias can't hit.

"At home maybe they're getting bigger portions. We know they are at fast food restaurants," says Simmons.

So the key is to focus on the family.

"We need to teach the parents as much as we need to teach the kids," he says.

"That's where we'll see change is when we can incorporate those things when kids are smaller," says Graves.

Click here for more information about The Farm.

Click here to watch this report.

Reported by: Cassidy Hodges, KNWA-TV, Fayetteville
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