Farm 2 School brings local food to school lunch tables

By Alex Lodner

The Good Acre, a food hub at 1790 W. Larpenteur Ave., Falcon Heights, has its fingers in all things food. From cooking classes to serving as a CSA location to connecting local farmers with wholesale buyers, the Good Acre works to create opportunities to nourish and educate.

Now, the Good Acre is helping Twin Cities area schools provide healthy meals to students through its Farm 2 School program. The program was launched in 2016, when the Good Acre partnered with Fridley Public Schools. The Good Acre facilitated training for the school district’s nutrition services staff, including technique training, recipe development and ideas on creating healthier menus for students. Over the next year, the program has grown to include 12 school districts in the greater Twin Cities area, including Roseville, St. Paul and St. Anthony-New Brighton.

Roseville Area Middle School staff members learn to cook kohlrabi at a fall training at the Good Acre. Photos by Kristal Leebrick

With the ultimate goal of incorporating more local produce into districts’ lunch lines, Good Acre representatives meet with nutrition services directors and assess each district’s needs and current capacities. Pricing, delivery and menus are all addressed. Then the training begins, touching on everything from knife skills to roasting techniques. Some of the training takes place at Good Acres’ expansive commercial kitchen.

“We want to make it easy for schools of any size and at any level of farm-to-school experience to incorporate more local, small farmer-grown produce into their food-service programs,” Good Acre kitchen manager Natalie Vandenburgh said. “We talk about local agriculture and seasonality of food, introduce nutritional services staff to the produce they will receive from us throughout the school year, and work with them through hands-on culinary training. The staff is excited to learn, and many of them make the dishes that they learn in our trainings for their own families at home.”

The kids get in on the action as well. The Good Acre provides schools with materials to share with students so the kids can more easily connect the food they are eating with the farmers who have grown the local produce that is served on the lunch line.

The Good Acre recently partnered with Roseville Area Middle School’s PTA, holding a Farm2Families Fundraiser. Parents and school staff placed orders for organic carrots—two pounds for themselves and two pounds for the school’s nutrition services program. Twelve dollars of each $20 donation benefitted the PTA, and the kids got to enjoy these healthy treats both at home and in their schools.

These pieces of kohlrabi will be made into kohlrabi fries.

Want to get your own kids interested in healthy cooking? Look for kids’ baking and soup-making classes at the Good Acre this winter. You can find upcoming classes at www.thegoodacre.org.

 

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