Local produce a hit in Western Washington schools

Ten school districts joined Fresh Food in School Project to increase local produce.

Feb. 20—The increasing number of farmers' markets in Western Washington has led to local produce finding its way onto school lunch menus. Of the 10 school districts in Western Washington that have formally joined the Fresh Food in Schools Project, a statewide effort to get Washington-grown produce in schools, four are in Snohomish or Island counties: Arlington, Lake Stevens, South Whidbey and Northshore.

Students in the Arlington and Snohomish school districts can eat apples recently plucked from the branches of Marshland Orchards in Maltby. The salad bar in the Lake Stevens School District can include offerings of celery sticks from Fife, sweet red peppers from Wapato and cucumbers harvested from the fields of nearby Carleton Farm.

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Ideas and Innovation
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We decided through focus group feedback that our freshmen struggled with the allergy-friendly options or options for students with diabetes on campus. In response, we decided to have a dinner the first few weeks of classes to let some of these students know what was available and let them network with their peers and others with allergies or diabetes. NC State Dining chefs prepared menu items based on foods from cultures around the world. ... From delicious sliced sweet potatoes to savory Ikarian-style roasted chicken, students were able to sample global dishes free of allergens.

Ideas and Innovation
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We started a monthly Coffee Hour with just the department director. The goal is to gather 
staff feedback about their jobs and answer individual questions. After the first event, 
several staff members emailed stating they just wanted to meet with the director without 
their supervisors. Now, the meetings offer an opportunity for more of a one-on-one conversation without the presence of the supervisor they 
deal with day in and day out.

Ideas and Innovation
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We’re currently piloting a Salad Bar Happy Hour 
in Cafe 16. Due to Health Department regulations, any self-serve salad bar items must be disposed of after service. The salad bar goes “on sale” for 25 cents an ounce post-lunchtime to help reduce waste as well as offer value to customers.

Menu Development
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Adding an entirely new cuisine to the menu can feel daunting. But what if you could dabble in international flavors simply by introducing a few new condiments? For inspiration, FSD talked to operators who are offering a range of condiments plucked from global regional cuisines.

“Most ethnic cuisines have some sort of sauce or condiment relishes that go with their dishes,” says Roy Sullivan, executive chef with Nutrition & Food Services at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. Condiments offered to diners at UCSF Medical include chimichurri (Argentina), curry (India), tzatziki (...

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