Chef Don McMillan

Chef Don McMillan coordinates sixteen local chefs and culinary students for the seventh annual Child Nutrition Day, sponsored by the Chef and Child Foundation of the American Culinary Federation, in collaboration with Family Services and Second Harvest Food Bank. Photo by Jesus Oroszco.

For the past 24 years, the Chef and Child Foundation of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) has partnered with agencies across America during the month of October to raise awareness about childhood hunger and emphasize good nutrition. North Carolina’s active Chef and Child chapter includes talented chefs who teach hands-on parent and child cooking classes in 22 North Carolina counties, including Forsyth County.

On Friday, October 16, 2015, Chef Don McMillan, sixteen local chefs and culinary students served a healthy, delicious breakfast to hundreds of preschool children, their families, teachers, and community partners at four of Family Services’ five-star child development centers: Kernersville, Mineral Springs, Sarah Y. Austin, and Winston-Salem State University. The chefs prepared approximately 1,700 breakfasts and collaborated with Family Services and Second Harvest Food Bank to educate children and their families about healthy eating.

The Childhood Nutrition Day event aimed a spotlight on the disturbing statistics of childhood hunger in Forsyth County. More than half — 53.2 %— of the 51,761 students in the Forsyth County school system receive free or reduced-price lunches. In some schools, nearly all students are recipients. Second Harvest reports that 25% of children in Forsyth County are considered food insecure and that 29% of food insecure residents do not qualify for food and nutrition assistance.

“A hungry child cannot learn,” said Daisy Rodriguez, director of the Child Hunger Program at Second Harvest Food Bank, who spoke at the Sarah Y. Austin Center event. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines proclaimed October 16, 2015, as Childhood Nutrition Day and emphasized the importance of raising awareness throughout the entire community. Other remarks were brought by Bob Feikema, President and CEO of Family Services; Chef Don McMillan; Mike Fenley, field representative for US Senator Richard Burr; and Nick Wilkinson, field representative for US Senator Thom Tillis. Student athletes from Salem College talked to preschoolers about healthy eating.

Held for the seventh year, the Childhood Nutrition Day Breakfast also focuses on helping others. Family Services Child Development families and staff collected non-perishable items throughout month of October to help restock the shelves at the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Family Services Child Development (FSCD) is celebrating 50 years of providing evidence-based readiness education to pre-Kindergarten children. The program serves 499 at-risk, three- and four-years-old children at its Head Start program and, beginning later this fall, 120 children, birth to three years old, through the first Early Head Start program in Forsyth County. Both programs address the educational and developmental needs of each child. FSCD is committed to preparing children for success in school and in life with a focus on education, health and nutrition, mental health and disabilities support, parent involvement and family and community partnerships.