The Boston Public School’s Farm to School Initiative is thrilled to be featured in First Lady Michelle Obama’s new book American Grown, The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.  The BPS Farm to School Initiative’s Local Lunch Thursday, which brings locally grown produce like squash, rutabaga, collard greens, and strawberries to the lunch line at all 46 full service cafeterias across the district, was highlighted along other innovative programs in school districts and communities nation wide.  Kim Szeto, the Farm to School Coordinator for Boston, is quoted in American Grown: “We often bring the whole vegetable or seedling into the cafeteria along with the samples to show students.  The more kids know about these vegetable, the more them might like to eat them and even grow them.”

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Way back in early April, when locally grown butternut squash was still available as a storage crop in Massachusetts, the Farm to School Team Made a visit to the Tynan School in South Boston to talk with students about the homemade soup on their plates.

The soup featured butternut squash grown in Hadley, MA by farmer Joe Czjakowski, along with black beans, green beans, and corn in a cumin-spiked chicken broth.  Packed with veggies and flavor, the Farm to School Initiative’s Southwest Vegetable Soup has been a hit with students across the district.  The soup has been featured as part of Boston Public Schools’ Local Lunch Thursdays, a program which puts local vegetables on the lunch menu at every cafeteria, every Thursday!  This month, we’ll be featuring garlic-parsley roasted spring dug parsnips as well as local carrots (another storage crop) with ranch dressing.

FNS Field Supervisor, Abhijit Potdar, & FNS Farm to School Coordinator, Kim Szeto talk squash.

Needless to say, we had a blast at the Tynan School.  Students got a chance to see, touch, and learn about butternut squash.  Kids, and staff (pictured above), used the butternut squash halves to “call the farmer” and thank him for growing such delicious veggies for lunch!

Thanks to everyone at the Tynan, especially Cafeteria Manager Mayra Carrasquillo, for making Local Lunch Thursdays a success.

The Farm to School team has been busy serving up local produce every Thursday at all BPS Cafeteria Schools.  Before the winter break, we visited Boston Latin Academy in Roxbury where we sampled locally grown Macintosh apples.  Local apples are available all winter long thanks to cold storage facilities which preserve apples harvested in the fall.  Sweet and juicy, these apples were a favorite among students.

Last week, we visited the Dearborn Middle School in Boston’s Uphams Corner Neighborhood to sample locally grown cabbage and carrots shredded for a tasty coleslaw.  In addition to the traditional mayonnaise dressed slaw, we also sampled an Asian inspired coleslaw with a ginger-vinegar dressing.  Overall, students preferred the traditional slaw which was developed for Boston Public Schools by the Department of Food and Nutrition Services very own Milton Lashus. 

Here’s the Recipe for Milton’s Famous Slaw:

  • 1 pound shredded cabbage and carrots (shred your own or buy a prepared bag in the salad section of the supermarket)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl and serve!

This week, on Thursday January 19th, we’ll be heading to the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain to sample Czjakowski Farm roasted vegetable medley – a blend of butternut squash, rutabaga, and carrots

Every Thursday, all BPS Cafeteria Schools serve up locally grown Massachusetts produce as part of the Farm to School Initiative.  Over the past few weeks, our Farm to School Team has visited schools on Local Lunch Thursday to sample produce and talk with students about the benefits of eating local.  Here are a few photos of our most recent visits:

We served up local broccoli at Hennigan Elementary School on Thursday November 3rd.  Paula Flaherty, the Cafeteria Manager encourages her students to eat their veggies by challenging them to show off their muscles!

 

Locally grown bosc pears were on the menu at the Timilty Middle School on Thursday November 10th.  Students LOVED the sweet pears served up by Jerrydene Odom, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team.

On Thursday November 17th, we visited McCormack Middle School to sample locally grown butternut squash as part of the school’s Thanksgiving meal.  Dale Feeney, the Cafeteria Manager, roasted the squash with salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little brown sugar – delicious!

Last week, on December 1st, students at Orchard Gardens K-8 sampled coleslaw prepared by Kathy Carney, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team.  The coleslaw is made with fresh Massachusetts grown cabbage and carrots.  We heard scores of stories about a recent fourth grade field trip to The Farm School in Athol, MA as we chatted with students about the vegetables on their plates.  The field trip clearly left a lasting impression on everyone and helped the students make the farm to table connection. 

We had a great time serving up local green beans, grown on Czajkowski Farm in Hadley, MA, for Local Lunch Thursday at the Martin Luther King K-8 in Dorchester last week.  Local Lunch Thursdays are part of the BPS Farm to School Initiative – every Thursday in all 44 of our cafeteria schools, local produce is served as part of the lunch menu.  We’ve served collard greens, onions, butternut squash, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, and even rutabaga!  Thanks to Arlene Whyte, the Cafeteria Manager at the King, and her entire staff for a wonderful lunch which also included roast chicken, whole wheat rolls, and fresh fruit:

The Department of Food and Nutrition Service’s own Kim Szeto was honored yesterday with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project’s Blue Ribbon Award for excellence and leadership.  Kim is the Farm to School Coordinator for Boston Public Schools and has grown the program from a pilot project in only 6 cafeterias to a mainstay on the lunch line of all 44 BPS cafeterias.  Last year, Boston Public Schools served over 35000 pounds of local produce to students across the city.  Kim, via Farm to School and the BPS Local Lunch Thursday program, has brought a myriad of fresh Massachusetts farm produce to our schools including apples, butternut squash, rutabaga, fresh strawberries, and much more. 

Kelly Erwin, the Director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, made the award to Kim at the City Year Headquarters in downtown Boston.  Ms. Erwin praised Kim’s dedication and perseverance as well as her ability to connect with students.  Several speakers echoed this sentiment, including Barbara Ferrer, the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, who remarked “Farm to School needs a champion. Kim is that champion.”

Representatives from Farm to School partners across the city and state were in attendance at the ceremony including: The MA Department of Agriculture, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, The Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, The Boston Public Health Commission, The Mayor’s Office, Project Bread, and The Food Project, and The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. 

Kim Szeto accepted the Blue Ribbon Award on behalf of the entire department of Food and Nutrition Services, noting that Farm to School would not be possible without the immense support of everyone in our central office and all of our cafeterias. 

From all of us at the Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Congratulations Kim!  Thank-you for everything you have done over the past several years to make Farm to School a success in Boston Public Schools.  We are looking forward to another terrific year ahead.   

Wondering where to find these delicious locally grown veggies outside of your school cafeteria? Check out your local farmers market!

Through a partnership with Mass Farmers Markets, we’ve put together walking maps from BPS schools to a few nearby markets. Check out these maps on our Resources page.

Many farmers markets are open from June through October.  Take a walk on over to the market after school and check out what’s in season!

For a more extensive listing of farmers markets in the area check out the Mass Farmers Market website.

Reminder: Tomorrow is Local Lunch Thursday! So get in line and try the roasted green beans!