Friday, March 25, 2011

Fruit and vegetable tasting program at the grade school

Wow, what a day! As part of the school lunch improvement plan, the PTA Wellness Committee decided to offer samples of fruits and veggies to the kids once a month for the rest of the school year. We didn't want to scare off anyone with anything too exotic for the first go-around, so today we served up cucumber and cantaloupe. Next month we are doing jicama and grapes. In May we'll do watermelon and zucchini.

You would not believe how much work it was getting this approved and running! You need sign-off from the principal, food vendor, county health inspector, and who knows who else. And everyone was really great and agreeable, but it's still a lot of coordination.

So, three of us cut up all the cucumber and cantaloupe that was donated by a local grocer. We had the use of the kitchen from 9-10 am, before the Lunch Ladies start getting the delivered lunch trays ready. (Ready = Take pre-made lunches from the middle school out of the heater boxes. Put on table.) Turns out our grade school has a compost bin, which I can't believe I didn't know. We put all the peels in there. Saved some of the seeds to clean up and give to the garden club (grades 3 and 4), which has no money left for seed purchasing. Went for a walk and checked out the new school speed limit sign, which I helped agitate for. Toured the still empty (zone 5!) community garden. Gave a little unsolicited advice on how to organize one of the sizable plots.

Returned to the school to prepare for the onslaught. There are three lunch periods, and they run for almost an hour and a half total. We served the samples on toothpicks. We have 400 students. Which means that we served about 2000 kids, because some of them just kept getting back in line. And back in line. And back in line. Turns out kids really like cucumbers and cantaloupe! Even kids who had never tried them before, hurrah!

The superintendent dropped by. He had some cucumber. Not a melon fan, apparently.

The leftover produce went to the fire station. In the future we hope to drop it off at the food pantry or homeless shelter, but that didn't come up as an idea until today, so we'll have to call them and arrange drop-off.

Every family received an informational flyer about how to enjoy cucumbers and cantaloupe at home, with a coupon from our grocer-sponsor stapled to it. Guess who did the copying and stapling? Yep, two of us Wednesday night.

I'm exhausted. But exhilarated, too.

The questions on the chart, from left to right, are: Have you ever tried cucumbers before? How does it taste? Should we include it in school lunches? And then the same questions for canteloupe.

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