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White House team to visit Cowell in May
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As the voting reaches a crescendo in First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy recipe contest, members of her advance team from the White House will be visiting Joshua Cowell School for a first-hand look at how the Cougars’ submitted recipe is prepared.

The school will be playing host to the representatives of the First Lady on May 10, said Cowell Principal Bonnie Bennett.

Among other things, the team “will watch the cafeteria nutrition staff prepare the recipe,” Bennett said.

Joining the school’s nutrition staff in giving a special cooking demonstration after that will be the student chef from Sierra High School who was part of the group that collaborated in creating the recipe, “Central Valley Harvest Bake.” The side dish, with the local vegetable crop butternut squash as the main ingredient, was selected as one of 15 finalists – out of more than 350 entered nationwide – in the First Lady’s Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three winning recipes in the online voting. As part of the prize, the teams that created the recipes will go to Washington, D.C., and prepare the dish for the White House chef.

In conjunction with the White House team’s visit will be a variety of fun and informational activities on campus involving school staff, members of the Manteca Unified school farm garden, and the students, Bennett said. These will include races, entertainment, and games – all revolving around the butternut squash. Rounding out the planned morning activities will be a student rally followed by lunch.

The team responsible for the creation of the school’s winning recipe, “Central Valley Harvest Bake,” is made up of Joshua Cowell cook Sharon Bright, main kitchen operator Rosalie Teicheira, Sierra High School culinary arts student Cameron H, Modesto chef Bryan Ehernholm of the Lunch Pail & Pure Joy bakery on Bangs Road in Modesto, and MUSD Nutrition Services Director Mary Tolan Davi.

The goal of the recipe competition was to create a recipe that was nutritious and appealing to kids. Another requirement was that it should include locally grown vegetables.

The other goal of the competition is to have the submitted recipes published in a cook book that can be incorporated into the National School Lunch Program menus. Dishes submitted in the competition were divided into three categories: whole grains, dry beans and peas, and dark green and orange vegetables. Cowell’s entry was in the last category.

Cowell students recently had the opportunity to taste-test their winning “Central Valley Harvest Bake” during their regular lunch period. Their school’s winning recipe received rave reviews from the students who had a serving of the side dish for lunch.

To vote for Joshua Cowell’s “Central Valley Harvest Bake,” go to You have until May 15 to give the school’s team a chance to go to Washington, D.C.