Harvard High School’s food nutrition students participated in the Cooks for Camo challenge this past week. Working in teams, students received an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) from Illinois National Guard Sgt. Kirsten Kessling.
The competition required students to create a delicious 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 like 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.”
Family Consumer Science Teacher Kelly Hoguet said, “I was extremely proud of the creations students came up with using the MREs.”
At the end of each the class, Kessling and school staff judged the dishes. Though there were a few questionable culinary choices, like hot tropical punch, overall the judges agreed the food was tasty.
“I have never had to cook under pressure with no recipe or directions,” said Harvard High School senior Ray Gerhardt. “It was a good test of my skills.”
“I enjoyed it,” senior Licett Ochoa said. “The dessert we made was amazing.”
“The activity is a fun way for students to develop teamwork, communication, creativity, and leadership roles,” Kessling said.
Nearly 200 students, over eight class periods, competed. “Sergeant Kessling and I are looking forward to making this an annual event,” Hoguet said.