- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

SCHUYLER, Neb. (AP) - An Omaha chef has taken her culinary skills to Schuyler Middle School, spending the day preparing and serving lunch in the cafeteria.

The Columbus Telegram (https://bit.ly/1VJVNhf ) reports that Sharon Schaefer went to the school Wednesday to form a pop-up restaurant in which she gave students and staff a different kind of school-dining experience.

As school nutrition chef for Hiland Dairy Foods, Schaefer works with 65 school districts and leads programs about nutrition that can fit into a school’s curriculum. She also trains and supports school nutrition professionals.

When she heard about the trend of chefs organizing pop-up restaurants for a day in various cities across the U.S., she thought the model would work well in school cafeterias.

“I’ve been in the culinary industry for almost 20 years, and when I heard of the pop-up restaurants I thought, ‘Why not bring that to school lunch?” she said. “‘Why not have a chef just show up for lunch one day and make something the kids haven’t had before?’”

To put her idea into action, Schaefer reached out to Jeff Andel, head of food service for Schuyler Community Schools. He jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s something that’s not ever really been done before,” Andel said. “I thought I’d love to give it a try.”

Schaefer served chicken burritos, cilantro lime rice bowls and banana pudding to the students and staff. The meal was made with nutritional standards required by the school.

“It’s just to kind of trying to play around with restaurant-quality food so kids will want to take it and be excited to eat it,” she said.

Hiland Dairy donated all of the dairy products used for the pop-up restaurant. The rest of the food was a part of the school’s normal lunch budget.

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Information from: Columbus Telegram, https://www.columbustelegram.com

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