Weddington Elementary School students recently had the opportunity to learn first-hand from a former Top Chef contestant about healthy eating and preparing healthy meals through an ongoing partnership with Ben’s Original, a brand of Mars Food.
To further promote and advocate for healthy nutritional education in Greenville – where the brand has been a staple in production for more than 43 years – Chef Nick Wallace hosted a cooking show at the school and showcased one of the recipes he developed as part of the Be After-School Hero Program.
About a month ago, Ben’s Original announced the “Be a Hero After School” program benefiting No Kid Hungry®, a national campaign to end child hunger in America, says a press release.
“From now through October 8, when consumers purchase Ben’s Original rice products, they’re helping provide up to 2.5 million meals to children in need across the United States. With a goal at the core of this program, the brand continues its partnership with award-winning chef Nick Wallace. He won awards, and who shares his passion for Ben’s original mission and the impact of food on communities.” “The last Top Chef contestant was born and raised in Mississippi, and has developed accessible recipes with Ben’s Original for families to enjoy around the table.”
Wallace guided the students through preparing a quick, easy but “refreshing” dish with apples, brown rice, pepper, and healthy lemon cider vinegar.
He showed the correct way to cut a bell pepper so that the students learned what julienne cuts are.
WES students Camarjuna Rhodes, Larry Smith, Gelila Wells and Jamarion Jones were invited to assist Wallace with the demonstration and were all given individual tasks to prepare and serve the meal.
At the conclusion of the show, each student and teacher present received a portion of the plate and a reusable shopping bag filled with healthy food items to bring back the meal at home using Ben’s Original and Chef Wallace’s special seasonings.
The WES conference was also attended by local officials including Senator Derek Simmons, City Council members Laurent Thomas Kingdom and James Wilson, and 3rd District Supervisor Carl McGee.
Wallace also led a cooking show last year at Greenville High where Mars awarded the school a $170,000 grant to use to advance educational opportunities for area students tied to the company’s commitment to donate $2.5 million over the next four years to the community it called home for more than four decades.
Wallace was asked how he feels when in Greenville partnering with Ben’s Original again, this time, at Weddington Elementary.
“I think this time is the most important because it’s better to have kids in that age group now. And just to hear the excitement and hear so many kids saying ‘I like eating healthy foods’ really, it’s powerful,” Wallace said. “They come to me saying ‘We want to be like you’ and ‘Keep up the good work,’ so these kids look and listen and they have to be around people who are more than just role models – the people they’ll meet halfway and meet at their school.”
Wallace praised the March Initiative for developing a healthier society for future generations.
This is one of the reasons why he is so happy to partner with the company.
“I had a saying a long time ago when I started working on TV in 2013. I was pulling in the big companies, but those big companies would come into my life and want me to be involved in something related to nutrition and they would do it for like 30 or 60 days and then they were gone,” Share Wallace.
Although he has partnerships with many other companies, he appreciates the “TLC” March exudes.
“You can tell they are serious and we have a lot of food insecurity all over Mississippi, not just in Greenville. So what they’re doing is paving the way now and holding themselves accountable,” Wallace noted. “Sure, they’ve worked in this community and built a huge profit margin for their business over many years and there’s been a lot of families going in and out of Mars like employees. So, it’s only right that you give back to your community and show them how serious you are, show them how much you are. You care about their children who will come for future generations and future generations.”
For Wallace, this is how one knows if someone is serious.
When he was told that Mars wanted to partner with him for a second time, he suggested they “lock her up” for another five or 10 years because he’s just as serious.
“This here really touched my heart,” he said of his demonstration in Weddington. “I love the company and all the people associated with the company. They are so detailed and care about their community here in Greenville and I care about that just as much.”
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