The members of the Trenton Paraprofessional Association FAST Committee (Families and Schools Together Work for Children) know that well-nourished kids do better academically. That’s why they invited parents to an event that featured healthy meals that you can prepare on a shoestring budget.
Shop ‘n Chop featured area chefs – both professionally trained and self-taught – who were given a bag of mystery ingredients and told to make a delicious meal. In addition to having opportunities to talk to the chefs about their creations, parents were invited to feast on the finished products.
Trenton Central High School graduate and Chef Damon Johnson, who now serves as Commissary Sous Chef for Aramark in Trenton Public schools, oversee meals for over 5,000 students each day. Chef Barbara Konig, who is classically trained in French cuisine, teaches Trenton Public Schools students culinary arts at the Twilight High School. Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr., who hails from Camden, NJ, won Season 4 of Food Network Star and now hosts his own show Big Daddy’s House.
Not all of the chefs were formally trained. Trenton Paraprofessional Association President Betty Glenn whipped up a chicken stir fry and chili while she was running the event.
The members of the Trenton Paraprofessionals Association provide support for students, assist teachers in classrooms, address the needs of students both in and out of schools, and serve as parent-school liaisons. The FAST Committee works to better engage families in their children’s education and school community. The Trenton Paraprofessionals live in Trenton and are well-known by Trenton families. Despite the integral role they play in their students’ lives, their jobs are often threatened by budget cuts and privatization.