Meet Idaho’s healthy top chef … junior

Third-grader Mac Wirth can make a veggie barley salad worthy of the White House. It’s also a go-to staple at Boise’s Collister Elementary School.

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Mac Wirth’s award winning healthy barley veggie salad

Mac’s dish won was the Idaho winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Every state winner was invited to the White House this summer, where the winning recipes were served to the junior chefs, their parents and the president. Mac met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“You know how he seems serious … but he’s pretty funny,” Mac said of the president. “He asked me about my missing front tooth.”

Mac and the president ate cauliflower crust pizza, a fruit smoothie and Mac’s veggie barley salad for lunch.

On Thursday, Mac ate a similar meal with his classmates. Collister served pizza with whole wheat crust and the veggie barley salad to celebrate Harvest Day. The districtwide event, which started in 2011, highlights healthy school lunch choices and the importance of Idaho agriculture.

Everything on Thursday’s menu was low in saturated fats and harvested locally — trout, potatoes, barley, green peppers and watermelon.

“We are educating students daily about making healthy food choices and buying locally,” said Desiree Karst, one of four food service managers for the Boise School District who specializes in menu development.

Mac’s barley salad has lots of colorful veggies, usually grown from his family garden, and barley with a vinaigrette dressing. He likes the texture of barley instead of kale or rice.

“This salad packs nicely in a lunch container,” Mac likes to brag.

The Wirths and their two children — Mac and kindergartner Lucy — are extremely active. They bike and ski almost every weekend, depending on the season.

“I love school and I love sports,” said Mac, a ski racer and football player.

They are dedicated to preparing health meals. Mac said his dad makes pizza with lots of vegetables and goat cheese and his mom makes zucchini chocolate chip cookies. They never eat fast food.

Beside the winning barley salad, Mac loves to make toast.

Learn more about the Boise School District’s food program by clicking here.

Jennifer Swindell

About Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over one million pageviews in 2019. Jennifer has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected]

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