From field to cafeteria
School lunches in Grand Forks had a fresher look this week, thanks to some area gardeners. David Allard and Darryl Brag, both of Grand Forks, and Holly Mawby, Churchs Ferry, N.D., delivered vegetables, fruits and herbs, including watermelon, carr...
School lunches in Grand Forks had a fresher look this week, thanks to some area gardeners.
David Allard and Darryl Brag, both of Grand Forks, and Holly Mawby, Churchs Ferry, N.D., delivered vegetables, fruits and herbs, including watermelon, carrots and basil, to the school district on Monday morning.
Grand Forks elementary, middle and high schools served the food throughout the week as part of Farm-To-School Week, proclaimed by Gov. John Hoeven.
The week highlights the importance of connecting schools with community farmers and local food hubs.
There are Farm-to-School programs in all 50 states, and the number of them has grown from 400 in 2004 to more than 2000 this year, according to the Farm-to-School website. There are 9,714 schools in 2,136 districts participating in the program, the website said.
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture started a local food initiative in 2008 and this year asked Hoeven to make the Farm-To-School week proclamation, said Chuck Fleming, North Dakota Department of Agriculture business development division director.
The goal of the department's local food initiative is to build a stronger food industry in North Dakota and one of the ways it can do that is to encourage school lunch administrators to serve fresh, local food, Fleming said.
North Dakota's public schools serve more than 16 million meals during the school year, so they create an important market for locally grown North Dakota farm products, Hoeven's proclamation said. Meanwhile, there is a growing need to promote healthy eating among young people, it said.
The Grand Forks School District has served locally grown food to students for a few years, said Julie Tunseth, Grand Forks School District child nutrition director. For example, during Pride of Dakota week in March, students are served locally grown organic potatoes.
This past week, Brag delivered carrots and Allard brought seedless watermelon, tomatoes, peppers and onions to the school. Mawby, meanwhile, provided the school district with sweet Genovese basil and flat parsley.
The carrots were cut up into chunks and the peppers, tomatoes and onions were put in the salad bar, Tunseth said. The seedless watermelon was served as a fruit choice, and the basil and parsley will be used to season a pesto sauce which will be served in the middle and high schools next week as part of a "Taste of Italy" theme.
Tunseth plans to buy more of Allard's produce and serve it again next week in the schools. She also hopes to order more produce from when school resumes next fall.
"You start out slow, and eventually, it catches on," she said.
Allard, who grows a 15-acre garden near East Grand Forks, is pleased to have another outlet for his produce and to know that students will be eating fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, he said.
"I think it's great," he said.
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