The blog post below was adapted from a New England Dairy & Food Council press release.
In November, students in the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) program at South High Community School spearheaded a farm-to-table event at their school and invited local farmers to attend.
At the Farm 2 Table luncheon, the group sampled potential new school menu items made with local ingredients and also prepared a variety of smoothies for taste testing. Two local farmers, Samantha Staebner of Whittier Farms in Sutton and Matt Koziol of Clover Springs Farm in West Brookfield, joined about 25 students in the cafeteria at South High Community School to sample the menu items developed and prepared by the Worcester Public Schools Assistant Director and head of culinary initiatives Chef Brian Corbley, along with the smoothies prepared by students.
Chef Corbley prepared build-your-own nutritious grain bowls for the students to try. Toppings included Thai glazed beef from Clover Springs Farm, guacamole, black bean salsa, fresh herbs, pickled jalapenos, spiced sunflower seeds, carrot daikon slaw, hot sauce, and more! Each bowl had a grain, vegetable, and protein component, making them reimbursable according to school meal guidelines.
Before students began building and sampling, Staebner and Koziol had the opportunity to speak to them about farming, and how they care for their land and animals. Staebner, who is a dairy farmer, spoke to students about how her family goes to great measures to ensure their cows are healthy and happy. This includes providing them with mattresses to lay on and access to food 24/7.
Diane Krol, Program Manager, Youth Wellness, and registered dietitian with New England Dairy & Food Council, described how the farmers presence made the farm-to-school connection real for students.
“When they can talk face-to-face with a farmer and ask them questions, or even just hear about their experience, they have a greater appreciation and understanding for what goes into producing that milk or apple they’re eating with their school lunch.” Diane explained.
After tasting the grain bowls, students prepared smoothies using ingredients and recipes provided by the school nutrition staff. They sampled these alongside the farmers. Overall, both the grain bowls and smoothies were well-received by students—a good indicator that they may appear on the school menu in the near future!