Chef Alex Klein of Havana teaches Conners Emerson students how to make chimichurri, a fresh Argentinean green sauce, during MDI Hospital and Havana’s Food Revolution Day last May. Havana and the hospital are teaming up again to present another Food Revolution Day for students on May 15. PHOTO COURTESY OF MDI HOSPITAL

Food Revolution Day comes to Conners Emerson again

BAR HARBOR — Conners Emerson students will be in a pickle this Food Revolution Day thanks to the Mount Desert Island Hospital and Chef Alex Klein of Havana. The hospital and local restaurant are again partnering to bring increased food knowledge and food education to island children. This year, Klein will teach fifth and sixth graders a few quick pickling techniques, while MDI Hospital Wellness Coordinator Kathy Mulligan will lead them in an outdoor activity session and prepare healthy smoothies.

Food Revolution Day 2015 kicks off in the school’s cafeteria the morning of Friday, May 15, with the hands-on pickling demonstration and wellness session, but it doesn’t end there. In the evening, Havana is hosting a free parents and students reception from 4-5 p.m. to give students the chance to showcase the dishes they helped to create. All proceeds from dinner service at Havana that evening, from 5-9 p.m., will be donated to the ongoing Conners Emerson greenhouse project being spearheaded by sixth-grade teacher Steve Gabel-Richards.

Gabel-Richards’ students are no strangers to food education. He and College of the Atlantic have been working on the greenhouse project and a farm-to-school program for some time now. Last year, MDI Hospital and Havana joined together to raise $1,300 for the project. This year, they hope to raise enough to help Gabel-Richards and COA complete the greenhouse.

Since last year, students have been able to prepare the stone pad for the greenhouse and work more closely with the College of the Atlantic on their farm-to-school program, said Gabel-Richards. “Throughout the year, students have been keeping a food log and have been tasting new, healthy foods in class, everything from rutabaga to goat cheese. They also have done some work in class learning about food security and supporting local agriculture.”

“It’s so important to build food knowledge and awareness at school and at home,” said MDI Hospital President and CEO Art Blank. “We are very grateful to Steve Gabel-Richards and Conners Emerson for their efforts and to Michael Boland and Havana for partnering with us to continue to develop food education for our island’s children.”

Established in 2011 by renowned chef Jamie Oliver, Food Revolution day is an international day of action designed to promote food education for children. MDI Hospital began participating in the initiative in 2013, and joined with Havana in 2014 to bring a unique hands-on cooking class to Conners Emerson. By all accounts, the class was a great success. “The best moment was when one of the parents at our reception said that her child woke up that day excited to go to school and cook, and her child was never excited to go to school,” said Boland.

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