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Happy Meal Chefs contest promotes cooking with healthy ingredients

April 2, 2012
GREATER SPRINGFIELD — Through April 18, McDonald's Happy Meal Chefs contest is seeking top inspiring stories from parent and child teams who enjoy cooking with wholesome ingredients at family mealtime.
Ten kids will win a trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of McDonald's Global Champions of Play program where they will join kids from around the world to celebrate balanced eating and fun play. Two Grand Prize Winners will become honorary "Happy Meal Chefs." The winning young chefs will experience a one-of-a-kind apprenticeship with the company's executive chef, Dan Coudreaut.
"Every day in McDonald's executive kitchen, my menu team and I aspire to come up with new, nutrition-minded menu choices that kids will love," Coudreaut said. "The Happy Meal Chefs contest is inviting families to join in our team's effort to make wholesome food fun."
Parents or legal guardians with kids ages 8 to 11 are eligible to enter online at the Happy Meal Chefs contest page: https://happymealchefs.mcdonalds.com. Participants must answer a brief questionnaire and submit a short video online that creatively showcases their family mealtime. They're also encouraged to learn about and feature recommended food groups from the USDA's MyPlate, the balanced-eating symbol based on federal dietary guidelines.
Locally, McDonald's is partnering with the Lincoln Culinary Institute in Hartford, Conn., to help give a group of local kids a head start on their entries.
On April 7, Ronald McDonald himself will welcome the children to the Institute where chefs will provide a hands-on cooking lesson on making fun and wholesome kids meals. Nutritionist Nancy Dell will also be on hand to teach kids about the USDA's MyPlate guidelines. After receiving this fun lesson, the children will be well prepared to put together great contest entries with their parents.
Entries will be reviewed by a special judging panel made up of experts specializing in food, nutrition and physical activity including five-time U.S. Olympic Swimming Champion Dara Torres; renowned child nutrition expert Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, FADA; leading cross-cultural nutrition expert Sylvia Meléndez-Klinger, MS, RD, LD; and Head Coach of Women's Track & Field, University of Texas, Coach Beverly 'Bev' Kearney.
"As an athlete and mom, it's important that my family lives a balanced active lifestyle," Torres said. "I see cooking with my family as part of playtime that encourages teamwork, creativity and healthful eating habits. I look forward to learning how Happy Meal Chefs contestants value their family mealtime."
The new Happy Meal is McDonald's latest initiative to support its "Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices," announced in July 2011. The comprehensive plan aims to help customers — especially children and families — make nutrition-minded choices whether visiting McDonald's or eating elsewhere.
The contest is open to U.S. residents age 18 or older, who are parent/legal guardian of a child age 8 to 11 years. Contest ends on April 18.
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