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Harvard High School students participate in food challenge

Illinois National Guard ​Sgt. Kirsten Kessling judges Harvard High School students' meals during the Cooks for Camo challenge.
Illinois National Guard ​Sgt. Kirsten Kessling judges Harvard High School students' meals during the Cooks for Camo challenge.

Food nutrition students at Harvard High School participated in the Cooks for Camo challenge this past week.

Working in teams, students received a M​eal, Ready-to-Eat from Illinois National Guard ​Sgt. Kirsten Kessling and were required to create a quality meal using only the MRE and ingredients from their classroom kitchen.

Limited to one class period, students raced to design, cook and plate their food. Each team received a different MRE, including entrees such as cheese tortellini and maple pork sausage.

“These are the military’s version of a Lunchable,” Kessling said. “They each have a main item, a few side items, and a dessert and drink. The students pair up and create a unique dish out of what they are given.”

At the end of each class, Kessling and school staff judged the dishes. Although there were a few questionable culinary choices, such as hot tropical punch, the judges agreed the food was tasty overall.

“I have never had to cook under pressure with no recipe or directions,” senior Ray Gerhardt said. “It was a good test of my skills.”

“I enjoyed it,” senior Licett Ochoa said. “The dessert we made was amazing.”

About 200 students competed during eight class periods.

“The activity is a fun way for students to develop teamwork, communication, creativity and leadership roles,” Kessling said.

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