Local Food at Local Schools Evanston Township High School
This week was Move and Crunch week at Evanston Township High School. Move and Crunch is a program initiated by the USDA of Illinois to encourage healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle in schools by increasing exercise and more nutritious eating. Invited by Linda Mallers, the developer of Farmlogix, a new, innovative, online ordering system for local produce, from over 300 farms and growing, in the Wisconsin area, I visited the school and served tastings of the vegetables from some of the Farmlogix farmers to the ETHS students.
One table consisted of what I called, “the inside of Thanksgiving pies”, so it was Thanksgiving dessert on a plate, apple compote, the apples coming from Brightonwood Orchards in Burlington, WI, baked sweet potato, from Larryville Gardens in Burlington, and finally pumpkin puree from Simon’s Garden in Mukawongo, WI.
The people behind the implementation of the program are Kim Minestra, Director of Nutrition Services and Emily Conti, Assistant Director of Nutrition Services of ETHS. They have been very pro-active in encouraging sourcing of local produce when possible and healthy eating.
ETHS is a great example of a school trying to encourage their students to move down a path of better nutrition. I still saw plenty of pizza, and nachos and potato chips but I ,also, actually had some students who said they knew about farmers markets or knew what the term sustainable food meant. I ,also, had students who were wary of trying a sweet potato and some who gamely tried and were happily surprised that it tasted good. At the very least, encouraging students to be more open-minded about what they are eating and to realize that vegetables actually taste good is a step in the right direction. The USDA is trying to move the school system forward with their new nutrition standards and ETHS is trying to give their students some healthier alternatives and at the very least expose them to tastier, healthy food which means food that is locally sourced!