District’s foodservice employees get hands-on lesson from the University of South Carolina

Lexington-Richland School District staff visited the university’s school of hotel, restaurant and tourism management for culinary training in healthy meal preparation.

COLUMBIA, S.C.—Students in Lexington-Richland School District Five will arrive at school with brand-new backpacks, pens and markers. The women who work in the district’s school cafeterias picked up some new skills and fresh recipes of their own Tuesday to give kids a healthy start.

Using fresh, local ingredients in school cafeterias has been a highly emphasized goal in Lexington-Richland Five since the district received a large USDA grant last year. Director of Student Nutrition Todd Bedenbaugh used resources from the grant to arrange a field trip to the University of South Carolina where food service employees from elementary, middle and high schools learned from instructors at the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

“We want to make sure they are using proper techniques for when they get fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

Students have planted gardens at each campus and Bedenbaugh has been able to order more locally sourced ingredients for cafeteria kitchens with funds from the Farm to Five grant. Sandy Strick, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, said it is vital the cooks know how to prepare the produce they receive.