Students at Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky are dining on more mouthwatering local foods like fresh strawberries, watermelon, apples and asparagus. The district has been working hard to build relationships with local farmers, educate children about food grown in their own communities, and expand the variety of produce served in school.
To make sure the fruits (and veggies!) of their labor can be enjoyed year-round, the nutrition staff diced, vacuum packed and froze locally sourced green peppers, zucchini and summer squash at their peak of freshness. These vegetables are key ingredients in the school marinara sauce, and the zucchini has been used in the district’s new Blue Ribbon Muffin recipe, prepared in the school bakery.
Those aren’t the only items made from scratch at Jefferson Schools – the Nutrition Service Center also prepares fresh, whole grain dinner rolls and other breads (using some locally produced flour and cornmeal), as well as soups, sauces, chili, tacos, chicken potpies, turkey roasts and other entrees.
To bring their food even closer to home, Jefferson County Public Schools is creating twenty new school gardens in the coming year. Students will help decide whether their harvests will support school cooking clubs or classroom activities or be sold to the cafeteria or at a school farmer’s market.
High school students are already constructing raised garden beds using sustainable cedar from a nearby community, and a middle school greenhouse, which provides fresh herbs to the school cafeterias, will supply the seeds and seedlings for the gardens.
With the support of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant for the City of Louisville, Jefferson Schools are already planning to expand their offerings of locally sourced foods in the coming year.