Martha’s Vineyard (MV) public school students who are chowing down on roasted potatoes with rosemary, purple and orange sweet potatoes and black bean salad may not know it, but they’re a part of a larger plan MV has to transform school lunches.
The Harvest of the Month program is a partnership between an eat-healthy cooperative called Island Grown Food and MV public schools. It’s now in its sixth month, and includes taste tests like the rosemary potato experiment, and the purple sweet potato experience.
When I was in school, the closest thing I had to a taste test was asking my friend Liz for some of her strawberries, or stealing a peanut butter cracker behind Ken’s back. Now, not only are kids sampling and “testing” healthy, new foods that are locally grown, they’re having fun doing it! Taste tests help to make sure that new healthy recipes are student friendly before adding them to the menu. They’re also a great way introduce students to new foods, since it can sometimes take several attempts before a student tries and actually likes a new food!
But it doesn’t stop with taste tests. The Island Grown staff work the featured produce into monthly curriculum standards in K through 12 public schools, and school cafeterias incorporate them into a daily meal. That means kids are actually involved in the decisions that determine which new foods are served in school each month.
Noli Taylor, executive director of Island Grown Schools, wrote a really great piece on exactly how things are going down on the island. Read it here, and let us know your thoughts!