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LHS, Annex Cafeterias Use Produce from Farm to School Program

Friday, October 14, 2016

Each day, the Liverpool High School and LHS Annex cafeterias offer a wide variety lcsdfoodservicehydroponicsof meals to their hungry students. From pizza to chicken burritos, there is always something for everyone to eat.

But for the last few weeks, students and staff members purchasing entrée and side salads for lunch have noticed quite a change to their leafy meals. That’s because the salads now contain organic lettuce that has been grown hydroponically right here in Central New York.

This year, the Liverpool Central School District Food Service Department is participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program. The initiative allows schools and other child nutrition providers to incorporate local fruits and vegetables into their National School Lunch Program.

LCSD Food Service Director Annette Marchbanks said the district purchases the mix, made up of green boston lettuce, red boston lettuce and red oak leaf lettuce, from Paul’s Nursery in Fulton. Because the lettuce is grown hydroponically, the district will still be able to purchase the nursery’s lettuce throughout the winter months.

Marchbanks said that since Paul’s Nursey is one of several local farms approved for the USDA’s Farm to School Program, the district can procure its lettuce at no additional cost. In addition to the lettuce, the district also purchases apples from Long Point Apple Orchard in Aurora.

“As local farmers continue to join the program we can use it more,” Marchbanks said. “I think these changes will be better for our students.”

“We’ve had compliments about the salads already,” added LHS Cook-Manager Rosa Gale.

The Farm to School Program was established with the passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The goal of the program is to bring locally or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum.

Marchbanks said she is particularly interested in the school garden aspect of the program, and noted that several LCSD schools already have gardens of their own. She soon hopes to work with those students to show them how to properly clean and prepare their produce for consumption.

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