DERBY - Sixth grader Haylee Johnson, of Ansonia, was top chef at the 3rd Annual Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS) Healthy Cooking Competition.
Johnson’s Butternut Squash French Toast was named best by a panel of judges that included elected officials and representatives from Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton at Griffin Hospital in Derby on May 17. Johnson’s recipe beat out tasty and healthy entries by Shelton fifth grader Alyssa Teixeira, of Shelton, Anthony Nakis, of Derby, and Arlinda Peraj, of Seymour.
“Each year, the contest provides a fun and exciting way for local students to showcase their talents for cooking, and to encourage a passion for both healthy eating and cooking within the local community,” said Amy Bethge, MPH, VITAHLS Coordinator at The Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
The four contestants advanced to the finals by winning regional competitions in their school district. All finalists received a gift tote from Massaro Community Farm filled with a children's cookbook, a $20 gift certificate for produce from the farm, movie passes to Seymour Cinemas, a personalized apron, and other items. As the grand prize winner, Johnson also received a gift certificate to SportsCenter of Connecticut in Shelton and a Nutri Ninja Blender.
The event was hosted by Chef Anne Gallagher and Diane D'Isidori, MD, co-founders of the Plow to Plate coalition, which works to combine healthcare leadership and community-based programs to promote local foods and agriculture as a critical means to well-being and disease prevention.
VITAHLS is a childhood obesity prevention initiative collaboration between Griffin Hospital, Yale Griffin PRC, and the Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton school districts. Since 2011, VITAHLS has integrated a variety of nutrition and physical activity programs into the existing school structure to help reduce childhood obesity.\
(This is a press release from Griffin Hospital)