Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Rainbow of Food

We have had a busy few days out at Fed Hock! The kids have been doing a great job learning about cooking, kitchen rules, composting, and so much more. We have been throwing new foods at them as fast as they can turn around, and the response has been excellent. We've begun rewarding students for trying new foods and for cleaning their plates at each meal - and the amount of food tossed out decreases every mealtime. Yesterday for breakfast we had homemade granola made with toasted locally-grown amaranth, topped with fresh blueberries, apples, and dried fruit. Yummm!

Each day, we get a different group of students in our nutrition room. Cindy and Dane teach them some basic kitchen safety skills, and they get to practice chopping! Many of the vegetables served are prepped by students as young as 1st and 2nd grade. After the meal, they help with doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. We appreciate their help, and they have a great time! In the picture to the right, a rainbow of veggies cook away in an Asian-inspired veggie + marinated tofu stir-fry we cooked up for lunch today, complete with rice, a cucumber salad, and, of course, plenty of sizzling skillets!

Cindy has a "No-Yuck" rule, and a brightly colored poster emblazoned with that message adorns the wall in the cafeteria behind our serving table. And it works! Naturally, we are so very fortunate to have food that is tasty, nutritious, and not yucky at all, but enthusiasm among the kids has been growing. Yesterday for lunch we had frittatas made with farm-fresh eggs, jack cheese, and Swiss chard, and it was one of our most popular lunches yet! Served up with a Crumbs Bakery roll and a mess of fresh coleslaw (another rainbow of green & purple cabbage, orange carrots, and red apples, with homemade dressing), it was a great meal. Fed Hock Superintendent Dr. Wood even made a special appearance to try some! And we couldn't have made that mountain of coleslaw without the help of our students, who chopped, shredded, and stirred.

Tomorrow the students are having a Field Day, but we will all be there bright and early for a tasty breakfast of freshly-baked muffins. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Scones, salad, and so much more!

There were two scones baking in the oven. One scone turns to the other and says, "Man! It is getting hot in here!" The second scone says, "Oh my goodness! A talking scone!"

That's the joke I told at breakfast this morning, right before we served up plates of cheesy scrambled eggs (made with local Athens eggs, Snowville milk, and Walnut Creek Amish cheddar cheese) paired with blueberry scones from Crumbs Bakery.

Today we established a Clean Plate Club, which provides enthusiastic encouragement for the students to finish all of their food - and, indeed, today the pile of food scraps after meals was much smaller. We are lucky to be able to turn almost all of our food scraps for the summer into compost for the garden! This helps us achieve our camp goal of zero waste.

We also are providing fun incentives for the kids to try something new at every meal, and in general today, the mood at mealtimes was jovial.

We had a group of 5th-6th graders for two full hours in the kitchen with us this morning, and after a lesson on safety and sanitation, they got to work, rolling out breadsticks, shredding cabbage, chopping carrots and grating 4 pounds of cheese for the day's lunch, shared by all the students!

All of us who work in the kitchen can scarcely believe it has only been two days; we have squeezed so much energy and activity into those two days it feels like it has certainly been more.

Tomorrow there will be more hustle & bustle, and with each day I hope that the kids will be able to assist more and more with the food prep - and I definitely hope to see more members of the Clean Plate Club!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 1!

Today was the first official day of the summer feeding site program. We expected as many as 75 students to show up the first day! Kids on Campus did a lot of the organizing of the students; like I mentioned before, they range in age from grades 1-11, but the majority of those attending today fell into a range of 2nd-8th grade (judging by my inexperienced eye).

I am one of four Americorps/VISTAs working on this program through CFI. Four more VISTAs are working with Kids on Campus. We are so very lucky to have so much wonderful support for this program, and from so many directions!

The other CFI VISTAs and I met early this morning at Fed Hock Middle School, breathlessly ready for a day that was sure to be jam-packed with activity. And it was! We instantly got to work in the nutrition room that will serve as our kitchen. By 8:30, we were proudly standing in the cafeteria as the kids filed in, assembling for the first time in their groups - four groups total, assorted roughly by age.

Today, we served oatmeal topped with apples and blueberries from the farmers' market, finished off with bananas and a mug of Snowville milk. We learned a lot in preparing the meal and serving it - what sort of system we would need in the cafeteria, for example, and that the students definitely prefer oatmeal to be sweetened (we totally forgot!).

The rest of the day was also spent a-hustle and a-bustle as we cleaned up from breakfast, prepared lunch, and welcomed our first group of kitchen helpers. This group, composed mostly of 7th and 8th graders, learned knife safety with Cindy and helped us wash dishes as we made lunch.

Lunch today was a favorite comfort food - mac & cheese, paired with peas and more fresh apples. Logistically, lunch went off much more smoothly than breakfast. We even had time to set up a compost bin for food scraps, which hopefully will be used in the school garden!

I am planning to update daily with snippets from the day's events cooking, serving, and educating the students. Throughout, I will also dedicate some posts to providing more information about CFI, Kids on Campus, and some of the other fantastic things we're doing this summer - such as the school garden!

Tonight, I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit exhausted from the day's exploits (I spent the evening running around Athens in search of Romaine lettuce!), but I feel good. I'm truly just full of excitement about what this project means and hope for what the summer will bring!

Friday, June 24, 2011


This is the very first post for the Dig Real Food! blog.

This summer, something very exciting is happening out at Fed Hock Middle School in Stewart, Ohio. Several organizations are working together on this USDA-sponsored Summer Feeding Site Program. Athens-based Community Food Initiatives (CFI), Ohio University's Kids on Campus, Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks, and Americorps/VISTA are all teaming up to provide a program dubbed "Be Bold: Real Food!" that focuses on providing fresh, nutritious food for youth in grades 1-11. The students will receive two meals a day, prepared in-house; nothing is coming off a GFS truck! We are very fortunate to receive donations of food through the CFI Donation Station (located at the Athens Farmers Market), as well as from other area entrepreneurs.

CFI's June 16 press release adds:
"Through prepared lessons, field trips, guest presentations and hands-on gardening and kitchen activities, children will learn what 'real' food is, how to grow it, where to buy it locally and how to prepare it. The children will prepare the noontime meal for all participants at the site.
They will learn about healthy lifestyle choices, nutritional education and will participate in physical education as well as related arts & crafts activities."

This blog will detail some of our daily activities, mostly focusing on the food we (and the students!) are preparing and serving. Hopefully, the fun we are having and all that we are learning will show through on this blog. All of us here working on this project, whether we're technically working for CFI, Kids on Campus, or Americorps/VISTA, are very excited to get this program off the ground and see what wonderful things we can cook up this summer!

Stay the next post, we frantically try to get ready!