Healthy Flavors,
Healthy Kids

2011 Leadership Summit

White House Chef Sam Kass

The 1st Annual Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids National Leadership Summit

In 2011, we held our first invitational Leadership Summit to gather great minds and pursue the goal of improving the health of children.

Improving the Health of Children and Young People through Food Education, Culinary Strategy, and Flavor Insight

May 17, 2011

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD
Program Director, Strategic Initiatives
The Culinary Institute of America

On September 1, 2010, we decided to launch our Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids initiative with an invitational leadership summit in May 2011. The goal of this initiative is to improve the health of children and young people through food education, culinary strategy, and flavor insight.

Planning a leadership summit in less than nine months is a daunting task, but with assistance from many of the National Steering Committee members, the planning process moving forward quite quickly. We had a draft program we could share with invited attendees by early February 2011, and we worked diligently the next two months to confirm all presenters and clearly define roles.

The two biggest challenges we faced when planning the 2011 summit were creating an engaging program for a diverse audience of stakeholders (including researchers, chefs, registered dietitians, school foodservice operators, and industry partners) and fitting in all the topics and presenters we thought were relevant to improving children's health.

To say the least, we planned an ambitiously scheduled program! Knowing now what we didn't appreciate then, we should have cut the number of sessions, and added much more time for discussion. Given the fact that everyone in attendance is a leader in the area of children's nutrition, we should have created more opportunities for the audience to engage in discussions with the presenters.

The program in 2012, which will be held May 9-11, will be different. We'll have more time for discussion as we work collaboratively to develop strategies, resources, and tools that help improve the quality and flavor of foods made available to children in a wide variety of settings in the U.S. We'll also incorporate a number of suggestions from attendees and sponsors, including:

  • providing opportunities for leaders from various sectors to build relationships and learn more about each other (e.g., setting up 15 to 20-minute one-on-one sessions for school foodservice operators and suppliers/vendors); and
  • highlighting recipes that meet Child Nutrition standards and that have been tested with kids of various ages.

Children's health is an incredibly important issue, and we are confident that by working with a diverse group of stakeholders, we can have impact in a variety of areas. But we have to be focused on food, flavor, and the unique expertise that the Culinary Institute of America can bring the table. The goal here isn't to create healthy foods; the goal is to create great-tasting, flavorful, craveable foods that help develop the palates of children and promote good health.