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Culinary Academy of Las Vegas Hosts First-Grade Food Critics at the Springs Cafe at Springs Preserve to Taste-Test New Menu Items for Summer Food Program

news3_july12The Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, the operator of the Springs Cafe at the Springs Preserve, hosted the First Grade Food Critics, a movement to promote nutrition education, career awareness and academic development among children in at-risk schools, to taste-test two new menu items for the 2012 Summer Food Service Program.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally funded program administered by Nevada’s Department of Education providing free nutritious meals to children in low-income areas Monday through Friday during the summer. The Academy, the largest SFSP sponsor in Nevada, provides meals to community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, housing developments, and churches in North Las Vegas, Las Vegas and Henderson. Last summer the academy prepared 2,300 meals a day (125,000 total meals) and delivered them to 33 sites. The academy has received two Western Region Sunshine Awards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: in 2008 for Improving the Nutrition Quality and Appeal of Meals and in 2010 for Increasing Participation and Community Partnerships.

Chef Denise Rosettani, who directs the program, is continually working on improving the menu and receiving feedback from children to understand what they really like to eat. These meals follow the USDA’s new guidelines on nutrition—more fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of protein, dairy and grains. The first graders taste-tested chicken salad, fresh broccoli florets, whole-wheat crackers, salad, fruit and low-fat, 1% percent milk. After critiquing the SFSP menu they sampled a cookie from the cafe menu.

“With half of the county’s children receiving free and reduced price meals during the school year, the need for the Summer Food Service Program is great,” said Director of Communications Polly Bates. “The meals we provide are available to any child who comes to the site with no registration required. We hope to see many more children enjoying our meals this summer.”

Founded by Benjamin Brown, an elementary school teacher and food journalist, First Grade Food Critics is a classroom-run program connecting students in underprivileged communities with complimentary culinary experiences, to help develop writing skills and expose students to the professional world of culinary arts and potential career choices. Another of Brown’s objectives is to work with other classes and grade levels to compile a dining guide written by children for children that highlights healthy choices at family-friendly restaurants.

Founded in 1993, Culinary Academy of Las Vegas (formerly the Culinary Training Academy), the country’s leading nonprofit culinary and hospitality training institute, was developed through a joint labor-management trust representing private sector employers, the Culinary Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165. The Academy is licensed by the Nevada Commission on Post-Secondary Education and trains several thousand students per year for participating employers in the hospitality industry. Offerings include a 50-seat bistro-style restaurant, Westside Bistro, and a 400-seat banquet and events center located at the 710 West Lake Mead Blvd. campus. The Academy is the caterer of record for The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and operator of the cafe and catering services at Springs Preserve. Culinary Academy of Las Vegas is an equal opportunity employer/program. For more information, call 702.924.2100 or visit Stay up to date on happenings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

First Grade Food Critics, started by an elementary school teacher/food journalist in Las Vegas, is a classroom-run program that merges one of the nation’s most prominent dining capitals with the hopes and dreams of students in underprivileged communities. Restaurants in Southern Nevada are generously providing complimentary culinary experiences, which become learning prompts that develop writing skills and expose students to the professional world and potential career choices.  Supplementing the program are guest speakers including chefs, restaurateurs, business executives and journalists who elaborate on career awareness within the food industry. For more information visit please visit

Photo: Culinary Academy of Las Vegas hosts First Grade Food Critics to taste-test two new menu items for the 2012 Summer Food Service Program at Springs Cafe at Springs Preserve. Here, a student explores fresh broccoli.