Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to School with a Freezer Full of Local Produce

It's that time of year where preparations are well underway for the new school year. No backpacks, notebooks, crayons and pencils for this chick! Managing a Food Service program for a school is a never ending job well after the students leave for the summer and before students return in the fall.

I feel privileged to be among the leaders in this country that are making positive changes for their students that participate in the National School Lunch program. Many Vermont schools are already cooking healthier. Prepared spaghetti sauce from a can? Not in my school kitchen ~ scratch cooking is the thing to do! Not only is it cheaper, but it is healthier for the kids. No concerns over sodium laden sauces, added sugars, dyes, preservatives, etc.

A culmination of planning and efforts between myself, farmers and interested community members is now reality. This year I am extremely excited that we are taking some of the scratch cooking back to the roots and closer to the vines where food grows. Farmers and interested families within the school community have agreed to "grow a row" for the school.
Produce Processing Parties have been planned where volunteers will (under my direction) assist with the washing, peeling, chopping, blanching and freezing the bounty of local produce. Students will enjoy that bounty over the course of the upcoming school year....corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, squash, root veggies, and more. None of this would be possible without the generosity from within the community and the passion I hold for true cooking from scratch.

Last spring the 3rd grade class planted some heirloom tomatoes along an old flower bed behind the school. Students enrolled in summer programs have been maintaining the garden over the summer. How exciting it will be to have students pick the tomatoes in the morning that will be served on the salad bar for lunch!
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