Sep 10

Clean food in our public schools!

Well…almost.

There’s a long road ahead before we can say that this new clean food lunch program is sustainable, but after a summer of brushing up on USDA guidelines, creating menus and attempting to understand all the pieces that make up the school lunch puzzle, today we launched our new food service pilot at Thompson Brook School in Avon, Connecticut.

Executive Chef Tony Camilleri of Rizzuto’s Restaurants and I led Thompson Brook’s amazing kitchen staff to prepare and serve freshly made oven-roasted herb chicken wraps, roasted broccoli with a citrus dressing and a gluten-free peach cobbler (made with locally grown peaches). Gone are the processed packaged foods, the sugary drinks and even the disposable dishes. As of today, the lunches are made from scratch, using quality ingredients, locally grown produce when possible, and served on shiny new reusable dinnerware (not one of which has landed in the garbage yet!).

Thompson-Brook-Lunch1

Tomorrow is pasta day, featuring homemade sauces (both Bolognese and marinara being offered), and Friday is homemade pizza day, with Chef Tony training everyone on the fine art of pizza dough making. Our delivery of locally grown apples looks amazing…and this is only day one! The aromas of today’s delicious and nutritious meal filled the halls of the school, and as I watched these students embrace healthy food options, my heart was filled with joy from the day and for all that is yet to come.

I’ll be posting updates about our progress, but for now…

Eat clean live well!

Terry Walters

 

12 Comments

  1. Cathy Keane
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    What needs to happen to make this program sustainable? My daughter came home from Thompson Brook School begging to buy school lunch again! This is a first in my family! I am so happy to see this in our public school.

  2. Posted September 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Cathy, that is AWESOME feedback! Thank you so much for sharing.

    We are learning every day and feedback from students, parents and teachers is essential so that we can truly make this a lunch program that everyone loves and that nourishes all! There will be lots of opportunities to support the program as we move forward, but an increase in participation is what we need the most so definitely let her buy lunch!

    I spoke to teachers today and identified different projects – like making a suggestion box, decorating the food lines with seasonal food items (gourds, pumpkins…) to make it more homey and inviting. We’d like to hold a fundraiser to allow us to purchase some new supplies to help stock the kitchen and Flatbread in Canton is anxious to support us. Perhaps a group of parents can plan a Flatbread Benefit Bake?

    Of course, you are also welcome to join you child for lunch. Today’s Bolognese sauce was mouthwatering, and tomorrow we’ve got a Caprese Sandwich featuring Urban Oaks organic heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mozz. Every Friday is going to be homemade pizza day (we tested our homemade dough today). It’s beyond exciting to see all of our hard work making such a difference. There will be more challenges ahead, so your patience and understanding are appreciated. And in the meantime, anything you can do to spread the word and encourage participation is awesome. Thank you!!!

    Eating clean and living well at Thompson Brook School!

    Terry

  3. Judy Wyman Kelly
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    So glad to see this happening! Good for you, Terry! Way to go!

  4. Lori Bennett
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Consider things such as CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) and such where, on a longer term basis, local farmers can plan for supplying the schools and come to a consensus on whom will grow/provide what… so as to ‘fulfill’ the chef’s requests over time. I’m SO HAPPY to hear of this FINALLY being done! Community Gardening / volunteer work to help those farmers as well as school gardens to grow some basic perenneal spices and fun stuff like pumpkins etc could also help the whole community get and feel involved over time.

  5. Posted September 12, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Right on, Lori! In fact, this program grew out of the superintendent’s interest in starting school gardens (which is also happening, just more slowly).

    Every school will soon have raised beds and I dream about a K-12 curriculum that’s interdisciplinary to support understanding of the environment and sustainability, as well as to feed produce into the food service. We have a long way to go until we’re there, but the seeds of intention and vision are planted.

    Meanwhile, all resources are on the table and we’re especially looking forward to building a relationship with Sub Edge Farm…moving into our community soon (I hope you’re listening, Rodger & Isabelle!!). I love the idea of the whole community being involved and that’s what it will take. As I’ve said before, we’ll be nourished as much by the process and connection it affords as by the food.

    Eat clean live well!

    Terry

  6. Posted September 12, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Great job, continued success.

  7. Posted September 12, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks Chef Steven! Hoping to can get you in as a guest chef soon!

  8. Posted September 12, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Loved the post Terry. We are so lucky to have a working relationship with a private funded organization that sponsors and works with our county schools. We started slowly to avoid the obvious rebellion from the cupcake crowd. Instituting The Healthy Lifestyle Golden Apple Awards to school staff has gone a long way. Michelle Obama posted about us and Jamie Oliver, we hope the press helps pass the message along. http://www.rebelmoms.com/interview/

  9. Posted September 12, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    So inspiring! Well done! I would love to do the same in Colorado!

  10. Posted September 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    We are listening, Terry! We are super excited about this on so many levels and love your ideas. We really want to explore a way to not just get our own produce into the schools but to have the students somehow involved in the process, to get them out onto the farm and to take some ownership. Imagine, students planting garlic in October that would be harvested next July and used by the school throughout the year. Never traveling more than a couple of miles! The possibilities are endless. We can’t wait to start collaborating….

  11. Posted September 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    We share the same vision! So can’t wait for you guys to move in. Avon is ready to start working the soil and collaborating with Sub Edge Farm!

  12. Sheila Jacobs
    Posted September 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    A huge undertaking but so valuable! Congratulations on a fabulous effort to bring a healthier lifestyle into the school cafeteria, to educate and also demonstrate how healthy eating can be appealing and delicious. Congratulations, too, to the school staff and all who have embraced the possibility of change and are helping to achieve it.

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