February 2011

In addition to working to increase the amount of local, fresh produce in school lunches across the city, the Boston Public Schools Farm to School Initiative seeks to engage students in a conversation about food. Farm to School hopes that schools will begin to view the cafeteria as a classroom in and of itself. The cafeteria should both model nutritious habits for students and educate students about the food system. Through conversations, the Farm to School Initiative hopes to make students think more deliberately about the food they eat and the process involved in producing it.

As part of this conversation in the cafeteria, Farm to School has created a series of 30-second cafeteria surveys to better understand the food habits, preferences and perceptions of students.

One question asked students to list their favorite vegetable. The top five responses were corn, carrots, broccoli, salad, and apples. It is also notable that 4% explicitly stated they had no favorite fruit or vegetable.


Harvest of the Month Recipe for March

These rutabaga fries are quick and easy to make. This is the recipe made in our cafeterias, but feel free to improvise on this basic structure. Use your favorite spice mix or add hardy herbs like rosemary or thyme. Students seem to like them best with ketchup.

Rutabaga Fries
Yield: 8 Servings


2 lbs of rutabagas
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste


  1. Peel rutabagas and cut int 1/4-inch fries using a sharp knife
  2. Toss rutabaga fries with oil
  3. Combine salt, black pepper and paprika and toss rutabaga fries with seasonings
  4. Roast in a single layer on a sheet pan at 400° F for 25-30 minutes in an oven or until well-browned
  5. Adjust salt to taste
  6. Let cool in a single layer to retain crispness

Rutabagas are March’s harvest of the month. Look out for rutabaga fries on the Local Lunch Thursday menu. Rutabagas are a subtly sweet root vegetable that are a cross between a turnip and wild cabbage. Due to their popularity in Sweden, they are sometimes referred to as Swedish turnips or simply “Swedes”. They can be stored for up to 4 months in ideal conditions, making them a perfect vegetable to enjoy throughout the winter.

Eating rutabagas can be quite beneficial to your health. They help to regulate digestion and high blood pressure and reduce the risk of cataracts. Additionally, rutabagas can reduce wheezing in asthma patients.

Harvest of the Month Rutabaga Poster

The USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released on January 31, 2011. The USDA revisits its dietary guidelines every five years and adjusts them based on the latest consensus of science and nutrition. This edition has many notable changes from the 2005 Guidelines and will ultimately have a large impact on school lunches across the country. We will devote a series of posts to dissecting the new edition and what the changes mean for you.