Top bean

In the national Recipes for Healthy Kids contest, Asheville's Ira B. Jones Elementary School took first place in the “Dry Beans and Peas” category. The winning recipe for the $1,500 prize? Tuscan smoked turkey and bean soup, a creation of Asheville City Schools staff, students and local chef Denny Trantham of the Grove Park Inn.

Recipe winners will take part in a national cook-off at the July 25 American Culinary Federation National Convention in Dallas, where the Jones team will compete for the $3,000 grand prize.

“Establishing good nutrition habits at an early age puts our children on the path to success and a healthy lifestyle," said Rep. Heath Shuler, applauding the school's success and wishing them luck in the finals.

The top 10 recipes in each of the competition’s three categories will be published in a cookbook promoting healthy eating for children, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture press release.

The USDA and first lady Michelle Obama launched the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition last September, challenging teams of school-nutrition professionals, chefs, students and community members to develop creative, nutritious, kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus. As part of the evaluation process, Jones Elementary students tested various recipes and offered their recommendations. And earlier this year, a team of national evaluators visited the school to conduct their own taste test.

The public also had the opportunity to vote for a favorite online; Bellingham Memorial Middle School in Massachusetts will receive $1,500 for its winning entry, “Tasty Tots.”

The contest is part of the first lady's Let's Move! Initiative, which also includes Chefs Move to Schools.
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Pardee announces new CEO and partnership agreement

Hendersonville-based Pardee Hospital named its new CEO and announced a management partnership with UNC Health Care, Hendersonville’s Times-News reported June 16.

James Kirby II will head the hospital. He’s been senior vice president and chief administrative officer of Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood, S.C., for nine years, according to the Times-News. Pardee board members also announced that the state-owned UNC Health, which is affiliated with the UNC School of Medicine, will manage Pardee.

In the last few years, most of the community facilities in Western North Carolina have likewise partnered with larger health systems.

Most recently, the 57-bed Murphy Medical Center announced that Carolinas HealthCare System will "manage the hospital and provide services related to quality, technology, research and education, strategic planning and operational efficiency," the Cherokee Scout reported. Based in Charlotte and serving two states, Carolinas HealthCare also manages hospitals in Swain, Haywood and Jackson counties under the MedWest name.

Meanwhile, Pardee's proposed joint venture with Mission Health System is still being discussed. Earlier this year, the Henderson County commissioners, who oversee Pardee, put the brakes on a proposed Mission/Pardee outpatient center, saying they have final say over the deal. But with Pardee's board emphasizing that the deal is a condition included in the UNC Health agreement, Board of Commissioners Chair Mike Edney relented and said the commissioners would give that authority back to Pardee's board.

At least two other commissioners may not be ready to sign off, however, according to a June 17 Times-News report.

Not-so-healthy South?

Most Americans are living longer these days — but not in the South. Overall, life expectancy has risen in the U.S., but it’s a different story in our region, according to an Associated Press story posted at (“Study: Lifespan Sank in Hundreds of U.S. Counties, Especially South”).

Researchers aren’t sure why. Some cite the unavailability of good health care, the migration of healthy people away from an area, or high rates of obesity, smoking “and other preventable health problems” in those counties as potential factors.

— Send your health-and-wellness news to or, or call News Editor Margaret Williams at 251-1333, ext. 152.I

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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