Chef shows students how to eat healthier

Three Rhode Island elementary schools were visited by celebrity chefs Wednesday as part of the Eat Healthy Rhode Island initiative.

The schools were chosen based on student essays.

"In my opinion, healthy eating is everything in moderation for one thing, cut down on processed foods," said Chef Fehmi Khalifa.

Khalifa is a personal chef who's well known in the South Coast region. But on Eat Healthy Rhode Island Day, he made a special visit to Old County Road School in Smithfield.

Three students -- Ashleigh, Emily and Hannah -- wrote winning essays.

"I think OCRS deserves a famous chef because we have been very good. Everywhere we go we get compliments and this could be a present," Emily said.

"More and more kids everyday are becoming obese, and it's not good. And if a chef comes they can teach us about healthy foods to eat," Hanna said.

"If a celebrity chef came they would be able to show us even more healthy foods we can make at home," Ashleigh said.

It was school social worker Kerri Lanzieri's idea to enter the essay contest.

"Being a school social worker, when you have a healthy body you have a healthy mind and you can focus on the curriculum and be a better person," Lanzieri said.

For five of the students, it was all hands on with chef as the fourth and fifth graders watched. The chef and his assistants assembled rice paper, cabbage and traditional wraps filled with everything from veggies to curry chicken salad with fruit and Mediterranean tuna salad.

One of Khalifa's messages is that it's less expensive in the long run to eat healthier, nonprocessed foods.

"The key is you just choose whether you're going to pay for your groceries now or you're going to pay for the doctors' bills later on, which can be astronomical," Khalifa said.

The chef left the students with these words.

"If you bring this message home to the parents, hopefully we'll break the cycle of unhealthy eating and we'll have a healthy America and not an obese one," Khalifa said.

One other school in Smithfield, William Winsor, and one in Westerly also won visits from celebrity chefs.