Perry Hill School Fifth Grader Alexandra Calandro, of Shelton, was top chef at the 6th Annual Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS) Healthy Cooking Competition.
Calandro’s “Fiesta Mango Pork and Salsa with Authentic Mexican Grilled Corn” was named best by a panel of judges that included local government officials and experts in cooking and health at Griffin Hospital in Derby on May 7. The recipe beat out Cinco de Mayo inspired entries by Sixth Grader Brooke Johnson from Prendergast School in Ansonia, and Sixth Grader Rashiya McNeil, from Derby Middle School.
“We look forward to this contest every year because it provides a fun and exciting way for local students to showcase their talents for cooking, and it encourages healthy eating and cooking at home and in the local community,” said Kim Doughty, MPH, PhD, VITAHLS Coordinator at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center (PRC).
The three contestants advanced to the finals by winning local competitions in their school district. All finalists received a personalized apron, cooking supplies, and a Platinum Pass to Urban Air Adventure Park. Calandro received all of this plus a round of mini-golf for eight people at Sports Center of Connecticut and six movie passes to Seymour Cinemas.
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.