by Mike Knaak
When Kennedy Community School students lined up for lunch April 24, they found a healthy, colorful dish alongside the BBQ Beef Mr. Rib sandwich, thanks to students from the College of St. Benedict.
Kennedy students sampled rainbow turkey pasta cooked by six students in the Entrepreneurship and Management in Food Industry class that’s part of the nutrition major at the college.
The entrée featured red bell peppers, zucchini, squash, peas and noodles with marinara sauce. Parmesan and mozzarella cheese topped it off.
Adding vegetables to the pasta created a healthier dish than just pasta and cheese.
“By adding the veggies to the pasta, children are more likely to eat them instead of just vegetables on the side,” CSB senior Sophie Elsenbast said.
The group started with six recipes before deciding on the pasta, a recipe from the Food Network, Erin Eikmeier of Sartell said. The recipe needed to meet the district’s nutritional requirements for lunch.
In addition to cooking at Kennedy, other students in the class, taught by Professor Bernadette Elhard, cooked meals at Apollo High School and Discovery Community School. The class prepares students for careers in food management, dietetics, nutrition and leadership in the food industry. Topics in the class include human resources and finance.
Researching, preparing and serving the meals gives the students real-world experience.
“It gives the students real work experience and recipe creation and evaluation with real-life costumers,” Elhard said.
Other experiences outside the classroom included working with food-shelf customers to come up with nutritional recipes cooked with common kitchen ingredients.
The six class members have a variety of plans after graduation in a few weeks. For example, Elsenbast of Minneapolis plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health at the University of Minnesota and Macey Hurrle of Kimball has an internship lined up at St. Cloud Hospital.
The college women arrived to cook at Kennedy at 8 a.m., well before the first lunch period at 10 a.m., to prepare for 840 students. They boiled water for the pasta, chopped the vegetables and cooked the ground turkey before tossing all the ingredients and topping them with cheese before baking.
The first Kennedy classes to eat, seventh- and eighth-graders, lined up for the plate of food as well as two survey forms.
The St. Cloud school district and the college students wanted to learn about eating habits in general as well as hear what the Kennedy students thought of the turkey rainbow pasta.
Survey questions included how often do students eat school lunch and their favorite and least favorite meals.
With kindergarten through eighth-graders at Kennedy, two versions of the surveys were created. For the younger students, response options ranged from grumpy to smiley faced icons.
The surveys will be compiled into a business plan and shared with the school district.