On Monday, December 12th, student chefs from NECI will visit four Addison County public school cafeterias to cook and taste-test new recipes with elementary school students to supplement the first-of-its-kind publication, New School Cuisine: Nutritious Seasonal Recipes for School Cooks by School Cooks.
The on-site samplings are an effort organized by the Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED, a collaboration of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT) and the New England Culinary Institute (NECI), in partnership with Kathy Alexander Food Service Cooperative Director of the Addison Northeast Food Service Cooperative. The ongoing relationship between VT-FEED, NECI, and Vermont’s school foodservice and nutrition community at large is a shining example of how the state is responding to the nutritional needs of our students.
“I’m excited about culinary professionals and chefs getting engaged,” said Deborah Kane, USDA’s National Farm to School Program Director, on her November trip to the Green Mountain State as the keynote speaker of the Vermont Farm to School Conference. She spoke about the shifts happening in the Farm to School movement that she is most inspired by. “Culinary schools now teach foodservice-scaled classes. All these culinary programs are graduating students that think working in a school cafeteria would be really awesome.”
In 2013, NECI’s Student Service Learning class assisted in the process, and created and tested the recipes for the original New School New Cuisine cookbook. To continue the practice of sharing within this community and innovating in school cafeterias, on Monday, December 12, three teams of NECI student chefs will travel to Monkton Central School, Beeman Elementary School, and Lincoln Community School to cook between 8:30-11 and serve six new recipes to Addison County students during their school lunch periods at 11:30 and 12:00.
The recipes focus on using seasonal foods to create healthy, kid-friendly dishes to serve in the school cafeteria. By involving these student chefs, this collaborative project allows for culinary professionals to connect to the Farm to School ideals early in their career, creating advocates for healthy food systems and meaningful nutrition education in our schools.
“It feels like the whole [Farm to School] ship is legitimately turning and can keep going in the right direction,” said Kane.
Vermont was recently listed in the USDA Farm to School Census as one of the leading states participating in Farm to School activities; of the schools participating in the survey, 83% reported participating in Farm to School programming.
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A partnership project of Shelburne Farms and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) is a statewide Farm to School program that raises awareness about healthy food, good nutrition, and the role of farms and farmers in building healthy food systems. VT FEED offers professional development services and resources to teachers and school food service, provides technical assistance to farmers and school professionals, and connects youth with agriculture and healthy food through such events as Junior Iron Chef Vermont, established in 2008 as one of the first youth culinary competitions to focus on local food and school meals. VT FEED published the first-ever school cookbook to incorporate new USDA nutrition guidelines in recipes created by and for school chefs, featuring local, seasonal ingredients. VT FEED’s work has been featured in EatingWell, Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and CNBC, among other outlets.