This year at CS 55 in the Bronx is even more special, thanks to a grant from the siggi’s starters program.
Based on the principle that change happens with the right mentorship and support, this program empowers nutrition professionals seeking to improve health in their local communities. There is no one better to take this opportunity and run with it than our very own Ricardo Diaz, WITS Chef/Program Manager and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Ricardo is our lead WITS Chef at the school, bringing his positivity and spirit to the whole community.
Ricardo is a nutrition professional through and through. He has years of education and training under his belt, including culinary training at the Natural Gourmet Institute. He is currently working toward receiving credentials in school nutrition from the School Nutrition Association. At WITS, he combines his knowledge of food and nutrition, develops recipes tailored for use in school meals, supports the professional development of school nutrition staff, and engages students to help them make the connection between their meals and their performance in the recess yard and classroom.
And now, we get to do what we do best: dive in! The Bronx community celebrated the beginning of the school year with a Community Partnership event, with Ricardo as the star of the show. He prepared a Black Bean and Corn Salad for everyone to taste, with fresh vegetables and herbs, AND a marinade made from scratch. Students stopping by the table couldn’t wait to share their favorite WITS Labs story with Ricardo and their excitement over his presence in the cafeteria again. Ricardo has been the Chef at CS55X since 2015, so this year we are diving deeper and students are eager for all of the delicious food and nutrition lessons to come.
Ricardo is such an amazing influence and role model to the entire school community. “I admire all that Wellness in the Schools has done for the students in my school as is doing for kids, nationally. They are passionate about improving the health and happiness of children and have already made such a positive impact,” said Principal Torres of CS 55X. Under Ricardo’s guidance, the students are learning the importance of healthy habits that will last time. We have reopened the cafeteria’s salad bar and kids are trying delicious, colorful foods, also receiving hands-on culinary experience and top nutrition tips. We can’t wait to see the growth our programming undergoes at the school this year — and all the students feeling more confident to lead healthier lives — thanks to the support of siggi’s.
In the words of Ricardo: “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our capacity to provide nutrition and culinary education to students throughout the city, while simultaneously underscoring the need to provide health and wellness education to the communities that we serve. We were able to pivot our educational model to a virtual and hybrid platform for the following school year, but we found many of our high-risk communities (CS 55 included) could not as readily participate due to a lack of access to the internet. I am delighted to bring the siggi’s starter grant to CS 55’s community as they reunite with a healthier focus on health and nutrition, and join in a dialogue with New York City about plant-forward food and recipes.”