This article was orginally written for publication in an Oregon Department of Education newsletter. And yes, many days in schools have been much like this.

A Day In The Life of The Nutrition Magician®
by Tom Ohling

The rows of students carrying their wax-paper wrapped carved orange parrots into the cafeteria during lunch always brighten my day. Today they also helped solve a mystery.

For months, while going from school to school as the Nutrition Magician®, I had wondered how I kept managing to get the back of my white chef coat so dirty. I never lean into anything. I even keep them in dry-cleaners bags during transport. Still the smudges mysteriously appeared.

It is a joy to share lunch with the students that have already been to the Mission Nutrition presentation. The waving hand cries of “sit here, sit with us, and sit with me” brings a welcome smile. The problem is where to sit. I have now taken to eating my lunch in stages and sitting with a different group for each.

It is amazing to hear students describe the content of their lunches. Counting off the grains, the fruits, the vegetables, it is satisfying to know that there are real lessons being learned.

They always want to know how I do the magic and laugh at me when I tell them that it is the magic of healthy choices. There is nothing more magical than life growing on the foundation of a quality diet.

Most exciting is how the students crowd around to tell how they will be carving more parrots at home with their families. They imagine using apples, pears, watermelons and more.

On this day I sat with my back to the lunch line. Hundreds of students had tapped and patted me on the back, vying for attention, wishing to share their vision. It dawned on me. Those weren’t smudges on the back of my white coat. They were the mark of love, affection and joy shared by thousands of children throughout the year.

Now I look on my soiled chefs coats as banners signifying the success of a wonderful program. And smile thinking of the students sharing that success with their families.


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Loved by audiences

“Thanks so much for being a speaker at conference. I learned more from your class than all of the rest. ”

— Wilma Hyde, OSFSA Conference

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Honored for commitment to quality education

American Culinary Federation President's Citation to Tom Ohling for education

from The American Culinary Federation

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“Your professionalism, high energy, preparedness and content knowledge made it easy for the group to relate their experiences to your information and motivate change.”

– Scott A. Milam Manager, Clark County District NW Natural

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A part of your team

ACF Good Guy honor to Tom Ohling nutrition educator

The ACF Chef & The Child Foundation Good Guy Award

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Recognized in the community

Firestone 100 national honor to Tom Ohling for service to others

Firestone 100 National Community Service Recognition

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Recognized for excellent childhood education

Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon honors Tom Ohling for childhood education programs

from Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon

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