Denver, Colo. – June 4, 2010 – Three chefs from JWU’s Denver Campus have been recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama for their dedicated efforts to educate their community about healthy eating. On Jun 4, Birch DeVault, Renée Petrillo ’10 and Kerstin Kleber joined 1,000 of their peers on the White House’s South Lawn to celebrate Chefs Move to Schools, a new initiative to engage food educators and chefs in the effort to make nutrition fun for kids and families. (Kleber and DeVault are pictured here on the White House lawn with Maureen Pothier, the Providence Campus' culinary labs chair.)
Run by the US Department of Agriculture, the campaign pairs chefs with local schools to create budget-conscious, balanced meals and to teach students about healthy dietary choices. The event correlates with the First Lady’s Let’s Move Campaign to help end childhood obesity. “School cafeterias are the frontline for fostering a healthy lifestyle for children,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “When partnerships between schools and the broader community are created, everyone wins.” “It’s got to be a collaboration,” the First Lady told the assembled chefs. “These schools are going to need your support. You are all at the heart of this initiative because ...you know more about food than almost anyone, and you’ve got the visibility and enthusiasm to match that knowledge.” DeVault was deeply inspired by the First Lady's words. "She really made me feel that our country is a community ... gifted with caring chefs [who] are uniquely equipped to address [these]problems."A recent graduate of JWU’s Culinary Nutrition program, Renée Petrillo plans to incorporate nutrition outreach and education into her internship with the Tri-County Health Department in Colorado. She sees this as the start of a new movement: “This group of distinguished chefs all put their busy schedules aside to come together and support this worthy cause,” she said. “This campaign launch showed me that there are many others doing complementary work. [Their] combined efforts will make sustainable change.”JWU’s Culinary Nutrition program is the first of its kind to receive accreditation from the American Dietetic Association. Students of the program learn to apply nutrition principles and scientific knowledge to their culinary foundation.