By Andrea Northup
If you walked into a D.C. school cafeteria on June 3rd 2010, you may have been surprised at what you saw on students’ trays. More than 150 schools in DC featured fresh, locally-grown strawberries and salad greens as a part of their school lunches. This was part of an event called Strawberries & Salad Greens, organized by the D.C. Farm to School Network in partnership with participating schools and food service providers.
About 40,000 students in all eight wards of the District gobbled up juicy, red berries and bright green lettuce in their lunches. Approximately 7,300 pounds of local strawberries and 2,400 pounds of greens were purchased and served for the event, contributing about $20,000 to our local food economy. The produce was grown on farms in Virgina, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania (visit our strawberry page for more information about the local growers and schools involved, plus lots of great photos).
In addition to helping schools find sources of fresh, local produce, the D.C. Farm to School Network coordinated “Where Food Comes From” tables in 16 school cafeterias. At these tables, volunteers and parents displayed plants, posters, pictures, and gardening tools. As students enjoyed their meals, they were able to see, touch, and smell where their food came from.
In twelve schools, local chefs performed interactive cooking demonstrations using local strawberries and salad greens. Kids were able to help professionals prepare recipes, taste samples, discuss the importance of eating fresh, local, healthy foods, and bring home recipes to try with their families.
Keep your eyes peeled for more fresh, local foods in D.C. school meals, and more fun events like this in the future.
Andrea Northup is the coordinator for the D.C. Farm to School Network.