This fall we added a new position at Launch: Nutrition Coordinator. The new Nutrition Coordinator is a familiar face: Launch cook and teacher Claire Chanard!
Claire is a Certified Food Protection Manager with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and a NW Community Kitchen Leader for Tilth Alliance. She got started in cooking while working on a fishing boat – she worked the night shift and couldn’t sleep during the day, so she ended up in the kitchen. The chefs let her help out by peeling potatoes and doing other simple tasks, and in the process she fell in love with cooking and being in a professional kitchen. Over the years Claire worked at various cooking jobs in Seattle and Italy before moving to France for 5 years. While there she learned a lot about classical French cooking from her in-laws, which inspired her to go to culinary school to formalize her training. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, she apprenticed at the renowned Willows Inn on Lummi Island before joining Launch in 2015.
In her new role as Nutrition Coordinator, Claire helps all Launch programs with meal planning, food preparation and skills training. She’s also working with teachers on integrating food, nutrition, wellness and the culinary arts into our classrooms.
Claire’s already making a huge impact – not only is she helping our cooks create healthy and delicious meals that satisfy even our pickiest eaters, but she’s also bringing organic farm-to-table produce into our programs and teaching our children and families about nutrition, food justice and food systems. And she’s exposing our children and teachers to all kinds of tasty fruits and vegetables that many of us have never encountered before, like Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi and Romanesco.
Claire has big plans for Launch in the future! She wants to engage our families in cooking, food and nutrition and encourage our teachers to incorporate food issues into their classroom activities. Eventually she wants to bring aspects of the Edible Schoolyard into our programs. Edible Schoolyards engage students and enhance their learning through garden and kitchen activities that are integrated in the school community, culture and curriculum. Children grow food in the school garden and then harvest, prepare and share the food. In the process they learn about nutrition, food systems, food choices, the environment, science and math. As we continue this work over the next several years, we’ll send out periodic updates on our progress so stay tuned!
Claire says, “my top two cooking heroes are Jamie Oliver and Alice Waters. Jamie Oliver for his amazing work in making school lunches healthy and delicious. Alice Waters for her work on bringing gardening and cooking into the general curriculum into public middle schools. My two favorite cooking projects at Launch were making baguettes with Maple school-age students and hosting a Community Kitchen with the families of preschoolers at Beacon Hill.”
In October Claire was featured in a radio story about our partnership with Farmstand Local Foods that helps us bring fresh, local organic produce to our programs.