Minnesota School District Farm-to-Cafeteria Preserves Learning

Students at Sibley East Public Schools continue their pickling process.

Published in Menu Strategies

The farm-to-cafeteria food preserving program of Sibley East Public Schools keeps local tomatoes, cabbage, pumpkins, squash, green beans and potatoes on school menus well beyond the fleeting Minnesota growing season into winter and spring.

The crops are grown on a one-acre garden plot that was donated to the district, which consists of an elementary school and a high school. Students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades do the planting and tending. The peeling, slicing, blanching and pickling of the thousands of pounds of produce grown there falls to cook-manager Joan Budahn and her three-person staff.

“Last year, we had enough tomatoes for our chili and spaghetti sauce until March,” says Budahn.

In addition, they make sauerkraut to serve with hot dogs and hamburgers by shredding cabbage, mixing it with canning salt and letting it ferment in crocks for about two weeks, later freezing it. Cabbage is also shredded and frozen for use in chow mein. Cucumbers are pickled in vinegar brine and refrigerated. Pumpkin is peeled, cubed, baked and frozen to boost the nutrition of chili and for making the occasional pumpkin pie.

“This is work,” says Budahn. “I don’t know if we are saving much money because of the labor cost. But we know the produce is fresh and without preservatives and the students like it because they grow it themselves.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources