Periodically throughout the school year, students at Greenville County School District in Greenville, S.C., are greeted by a gas-fired, wood-burning smoker as they walk into school.
The sight (and accompanying smells) is courtesy of the district’s barbecue team which was started back in 2019 by previous GCS Director of Food and Nutrition Services Joe Urban.
One of the menu items from the smoker is a Smoked Turkey BLT that uses hoagie rolls sourced from Southern Baking, a local wholesale bakery that has been supplying the greater Greenville area with fresh bread products since it first opened in 1995.
The district’s partnership with the bakery began through Urban who reached out to them when designing the barbecue team’s menu.
“Joe had met the owner of the bakery and had the opportunity to move his bread to a local producer and that’s what started it,” says current Director of Food and Nutrition Services Ron Jones.
The smoked turkey BLT was the first menu item to utilize bread from Southern Baking and has become one of students’ favorite menu items from the smoker.
Preparing the sandwich
The sandwich starts with smoking the turkey breasts for several hours until it they reach 165 degrees.
Once the breast is done smoking, it is then left to rest and then sliced. From there, the team gathers the other toppings (bacon, tomato and lettuce) and prepares the sandwiches using an assembly line.
“We slice the bread, lay it out. And then we have all of our ingredients ready to go and it's just like, ‘You're in charge of lettuce and tomato. You’re bacon and you’re turkey,’ and everybody just follows behind the other end and makes up the sandwich as we go through,” says Food and Nutrition Culinary Specialist Lauren Couchois.
The sandwich is finished with a house-made garlic aioli and is then served to hungry students.
Thinking beyond fresh produce
Due to the success of the Smoked Turkey BLT, the district has expanded its partnership with Southern Baking and uses their products across their menu.
Today, along with hoagie rolls, the district also sources pullman loaves, dinner rolls and hamburger buns from the company.
The nutrition team’s use of local bread in its menu is the perfect example of how local products are not limited to fruits and vegetables.
Expanding local products to include more than just fresh produce not only boosts local businesses, Couchois says, but it also provides students with the best meals possible.
“You can help not only your local community economy, but also get the kids the freshest, best product,” she says.
Do you have a dish that uses local ingredients on your menu that you would like to see featured in Locally Sourced? Please send an email to Benita Gingerella at firstname.lastname@example.org