By ROBERT LINNEHAN
The Haddonfield Sun
A local chef spent this past Friday on the South Lawn of the White House, hobnobbing with First Lady Michelle Obama and being prepped on a new program designed to make school lunches healthier for students across the country.
One of 100 chefs throughout the nation invited to the kickoff for Obama’s “Chef’s Move to School Program,” Kathy S. Gold will soon be paired with a local school and will help improve the nutritional value of the lunch program.
Gold — owner and operator of In the Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield — was given three separate invitations to help kick-start the new program. Gold is a member of Women’s Chef and Restaurateurs, the vice president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She received three separate invitations for her work with all three organizations.
The program will pair chefs with local schools in their communities to teach students about nutrition, the importance of eating correctly, and all around dietary health, as well as looking to make improvements in the school’s lunch program and offering healthier alternatives.
Obama has strived to decrease the childhood obesity rate during her husband’s presidential term.
This is an area of importance for young students, Gold said, and is one she has already tried to improve in Cherry Hill. She recently was working with a school in the district to help pair it with local farmers to provide better lunch options for students.
“Because of the way the school lunch programs are structured, we do get a lot of our food from the government.
“It’s stored food, processed foods with long shelf life. The food has a lot of preservatives,” she said. “It’s an inherent problem in the system. It’s all about funding because local products do cost more, and everyone can understand that.
“But, we do need to take advantage of seasonal and local products. Seasonal is a bit harder because in South Jersey, because when foods are coming out of the ground, it’s the summer months.”
Especially in poorer school districts where a school lunch is often the only food a child gets during the day, Gold said it’s important to offer fresh options instead of only the preservative-laden, fat-filled food given to students.
Gold has an extensive culinary background, despite attending college for investment banking. She was an investment banker for his first career, but quickly realized cooking was her main calling. She trained at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Ottawa and has been a professional chef for the past 15 years.
Gold said she never would have met the first lady if she were still an investment banker.
“It’s thrilling; it’s beyond thrilling to be part of something like this. Many of my colleagues from all over the country are coming to this event. To be in the launch of this very important program has been very exciting,” Gold said.
Gold will receive word on the school she will be paired with soon.