Cool Aid! A Farm to Table Family Event, Boiceville NY

One of the most wonderful things about living in New York’s Hudson Valley is our proximity to so many dedicated local organic farmers and to the creative chefs who use that produce in their restaurants.

One group of these chefs and farmers is planning an interesting benefit that we’d like to share with you; it might just inspire you in your own community.

Cool Aid! is A FARM TO TABLE FAMILY EVENT to be held on Monday, May 23rd in the Onteora Middle School/High School Cafeteria, in Boiceville New York. Cool Aid proceeds will fund the purchase of a walk-in freezer for the central kitchen of the Onteora Schools in Boiceville, NY.

Here’s where it gets interesting. A walk-in freezer will allow the cooks at the school to effectively extend the growing season for locally sourced produce, reduce waste of plentiful fresh foods, and increase nutrition by freezing fruits and vegetables picked at the height of their nutritive value.

The school feels this will aid their ability to deliver healthy foods to their students, without a huge outlay of money. In planning this fundraiser, they looked for a way to do something educational, interactive and fun, linking school-age kids with area chefs and farmers.  Since the school enrolls students kindergarten through 12th grade, the goal was to get all levels involved.

Here’s what they came up with: An event in which eight local chefs will be paired up with a regional farmer of their choice and two students, who will help execute the assembly of a tasty and healthy food that’s easy for kids to make and fits perfectly into a student’s lunchbox.

The line-up of chefs provides a look at the array of culinary talent and the intriguing regional cuisine in this area.  The chefs include Dan Leader, Gianni Scappin, Curt Robair, Bill Warnes, Ric Orlando, Devin Mills, Pika Roels, and Kevin Katz.

In order to make the event accessible to all families in Ulster County, it’s a free event; families can purchase as many tickets as they wish for each hors d’ouevre, for $2 each.

Live music by the school’s band will be performed throughout the event. A silent auction is planned, featuring such items as autographed cookbooks from some of the top chefs in the country, including Tom Collicchio, David Burke, Daniel Orr, and Bill Telepan.

Students have designed the event’s logo and website (to follow shortly).  The event will also feature food crafts for kids, juicer and smoothie bars, healthy snack alternatives presented by Onteora Home and Career students, a presentation by Hudson Valley author Joanne Michaels on gardening, nutritional information with Lysa Ingalsbe, RN and holistic health coach, and a photo booth.

Upon learning about this event, Frontier joined with others as one of the sponsors.

We hope sharing the details of this event might inspire you to find ways to help schools or any other institutions in your area move towards using more fresh ingredients from local sources.

Please let us know if you’re involved in any projects like this one, we love hearing these stories.

School Principal Bans Packed Lunches

According to a story in today’s Chicago Tribune, at Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

But many parents and students aren’t happy with this mandate, despite Carmon’s intentions.

In fact, according to the article, many Little Village students claim that, given the opportunity, they would make sound choices.

“They’re afraid that we’ll all bring in greasy food instead of healthy food and it won’t be as good as what they give us at school,” said student Yesenia Gutierrez. “It’s really lame. If we could bring in our own lunches, everyone knows what they’d bring. For example, the vegetarians could bring in their own veggie food.”

The lunch at Little Village is $2.25 a day – does this seem high to you? Can you pack a lunch for less than that?

Any of us who’ve spent time in a school lunchroom (and that’s most of us) have surely seen kids throw away the food they aren’t eating. So the idea of taking away any options for what they might want to eat seems like it might increase the chance that food is going to be wasted.

Clearly, this solution may not be the best plan. What other options are there for improving the nutritional value of school lunches? What’s worked for you in that area?

Some schools ban certain foods and drinks, like those with excessive amounts of sugar. Some schools even ban processed foods.

What are the rules at your child’s school? Are any foods OK for lunch, or are there rules in place to ensure lunches from home meet set nutrition standards?

We’d like to hear your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by.