Cranston students take top spots in Kids’ Healthy Recipe Challenge

By Jen Cowart
Posted 1/20/16

Saturday, Jan. 9 was an exciting day for the 19 students who were finalists in the 2016 Rhode Island Kids’ Healthy Recipe Challenge.

They, along with their guests, would be spending their …

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Cranston students take top spots in Kids’ Healthy Recipe Challenge

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Saturday, Jan. 9 was an exciting day for the 19 students who were finalists in the 2016 Rhode Island Kids’ Healthy Recipe Challenge.

They, along with their guests, would be spending their afternoon having lunch with Gov. Gina Raimondo and her husband, First Gentleman Andy Moffit, at the Rhode Island Food Bank. Also present at the event were special guests and dignitaries from around the state, including state Rep. Samuel Azzinaro and his wife Carol, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee and his wife Susan, Cumberland Mayor Bill Murray, Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Michaela Johnson of “The Rhode Show,” and David Dadekian, founder and president of Eat Drink RI.

Each finalist received their own chef’s hat, a bound cookbook containing all the final recipes, and a citation from the governor. It was at the event itself that the category winners for each of the three categories were announced.

Cranston students won two of the top three spots. Cameron Belisle, a fifth-grader at Stone Hill Elementary School, took the top spot in the entrees category for his codfish tacos, and Lily Addonizio, a fifth-grader at Immaculate Conception Catholic Regional School, took the top spot in the desserts category with her apple roses. Both items were served on the luncheon menu, as was an appetizer of tabouli entered by Sofia Sweet, a fifth-grader from Fishing Cove Elementary School in North Kingstown.

In addition to the two Cranston students taking the top spots, there were two other Cranston students who were present as finalists. Nicholas Soccio, a fifth-grader from Immaculate Conception, was a finalist for his oven-baked carrot fries in the starters category, and Alexandra Cowart, a fifth-grader at Glen Hills Elementary School, was a finalist for her rice pudding in the desserts category.

Andrew Schiff, chief executive officer at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, welcomed all of the guests.

“I feel like I know each of you and your recipes,” he said. “As a judge, I got to see the recipes, and you all did a terrific job. I was thrilled when we were asked to host this event. We love visitors here, and I am happy that we are part of an event that encourages the next generation of Rhode Islanders to cook and eat healthy meals. Sadly, many Rhode Islanders can’t afford to feed their families healthy meals. We are servicing 60,000 people a month. It’s best to help people see how they can afford a healthy meal at home, even on a budget, and that’s exactly what our finalists did for us today.”

Moffit emceed the event, and spoke about why he decided to make food his platform during his time as first gentleman.

“I decided to choose food as my issue. We have a tremendous food economy here in Rhode Island, and we have fabulous restaurants,” he said. “But we also have a great deal of need, and hunger. One in seven Rhode Islanders can’t afford healthy meals.”

Moffit discussed the creation of the recipe challenge and his hope that it would be a longstanding tradition in Rhode Island and in the fight against hunger.

“Healthy eating is an issue that a lot of people care about in our community. This contest first came about because Gina and I are really interested in food,” he said. “We wanted to inspire kids, so we challenged them to come up with healthy, affordable recipes. We received over 125 submissions and there are 18 finalists, and we hope that this year’s Rhode Island Healthy Recipe Challenge is the first annual, and that you have all started a tradition.”

Raimondo praised the day’s meal selections and thanked the finalists for introducing her own children, who were present at the luncheon, to new and healthy food options.

“Thank you all so much for being here,” she said. “Thank you to all of the children who participated and to all of the moms and dads for signing them up. As a mom, I know what it’s like and I know the extra time and effort that it takes, but we believe that food keeps families together, and as parents, we know we are constantly trying to get our kids to eat healthy foods, but there’s only so many ways you can disguise cauliflower.”

Raimondo reflected on her time growing up watching her grandparents cook, and cooking with them in the basement kitchen.

“Those are some of my happiest memories. I pass them on to my children, and today I am sharing them with you,” she said. “We’re all in this together. Let’s engage families and help to encourage healthy families and a healthy community.”

At the conclusion of the event, tours of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank were given.

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