Teaching kids the value of nutrition
By Jared Raney
Farm to School is a “win-win” for both community and students, said community outreach member Debbie Jircik.
The program, funded through the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) AmeriCorps Partnership Grant, has three tiers: procurement, nutrition education and teaching gardens.
Thanks to Northland Pines Farm to School, every school in that district has its own garden, and AmeriCorps nutrition educator Jasmyn Schmidt brings hand-on lessons to the classroom.
“This gives them the opportunity to share the delight of growing something themselves,” Jircik said “If they’ve grown it themselves, they’re more inclined to try it and to like it. So we consider that an important piece.” Jircik, in addition to being the current community outreach member, was involved int he inception of the program.
This year, over 800 students will be taking Farm to School lessons in Northland Pines, across various topics and subjects.
Another way the program is bringing education to the schools is through monthly tastings. This month, which also happens to be National Farm to School Month, was a lava kale salad with apple. The kale provided for students was grown locally by EverGood Farm, a local operation that the Star Journal featured in August.
“The harvest of the month gives us another way to procure local food, to bring it into the school, to give kids the opportunity to try it, whether it’s in tastings or in the classroom, when they’re doing their lessons,” Jircik said.
The grant to Northland Pines was one of 221 made by the DATCP AmeriCorps Partnership since 2010.
“The Farm to School program really is important to the students because they make those connections from what’s on their plate to what the food that’s around them,” said Maggie Bishop, Northland Pines food service director. “When they get the real stuff they can’t believe how good it is, and that’s what we want to do, we want to make those connections for them, we want them to know where their food comes from.”
“We want everybody to have a win-win. We want the community to have a win, and we want the local economy to have a win,” Jircik said. “The goal is that we’re not always asking for a handout, but that we are actually purchasing what they have to offer. It’s about trying to help local farmers and local economies as well as it is to increase the access to local, fresh food.”
Never eaten kale? Give these recipes a try
Courtesy of Debbie Jircik
Farm to School’s Harvest of the Month in September was kale. The celebration of National Farm to School Month in October began on October 7 with National Kale Day Tastings of Green Lava Kale Salad at the Northland Pines High School and Eagle River Elementary/Middle School. Students at Land O’ Lakes and St. Germain had a head start, trying the salad in September.
4 Cups of finely sliced kale (preferably Dinosaur kale)
3 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp kosher salt
2 Cups fresh diced apples
2 Tbsp honey
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 Cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1. Combine kale, lemon juice, oil, salt & pepper in a large bowl.
2. Mix kale with hands until glossy green and soft.
3. To keep the apples from browning after slicing, squeeze half of a lemon over the apples and stir.
4. Add apples and sunflower seeds to the kale & stir in honey.
This recipe is adapted from the Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary and Nutrition Services.
Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch curly kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry kale, then remove the stems and center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool for 3 minutes before serving or storing. Note: One of the secrets to crispy kale chips is drying the kale well before cutting, preparing and baking.