A fresh take on learning
For Bruce Klaehn, superintendent of Dover-Eyota Public Schools, the move to include more locally sourced fresh produce in the lunch program fit perfectly with his vision of how the schools should operate. “[Everything] we do here is educational,” he stated. “There isn’t any time we turn the switch off, and our food and nutrition service isn’t just about getting kids fed. It’s about teaching them to eat nutritionally.” Students were quick to take notice.
“My grandpa planted that.”
The first step for the food service program was identifying local resources and learning how to incorporate new foods into daily menu choices. It meant making connections with a local produce supplier for vegetables, a nearby orchard for apples, an Eyota butcher shop for beef, a supplier in the next county for ground turkey. A rancher and one of her bison even came to school one day to get kids excited about the pulled buffalo sandwiches being served.
In some cases, students knew exactly where they food was coming from because relatives or friends were growing it. In other cases, it was eye opening. A senior remarked, “I didn’t know that Eyota had so many farms. It’s nice to see we’re eating locally and supporting families around the area, and that we’re eating natural stuff. It’s local and it’s fresh.”
The Dover-Eyota farm-to-school program along with an increased focus on daily fresh produce completed its third year in 2011. Already, changes in attitudes and expectations are being noticed. A high school student remarked, “One of the big things that’s changed is I like fruit more. I used to not be much of a fruit eater or so much of a vegetable eater. But now I see there are different ways of eating it. It’s easier to make that choice when you make it every day in school.”
Carrie Frank, Food and Nutrition Director for Dover-Eyota schools, concludes by saying, “I’ve found we shouldn’t underestimate the kids. They know good food. If healthy options are offered, they’re going to [choose] them.”
Read about the Statewide Health Improvement Program and how it is working to make the healthy choice the easy choice for Minnesotans.