Homegrown School Lunch Week celebrated at FES
FEDERALSBURG — Students and teachers got a taste of farm-fresh dishes Friday, Sept. 28, during the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week showcase at Federalsburg Elementary School.
The statewide initiative highlights local farms and produce, along with dishes prepared by seniors studying culinary arts at Caroline County’s Career and Technology Center. Federalsburg Elementary School students filed into the gymnasium and tasted samples from farm to tray pork, to fresh apple cider.
Students enjoyed lunch with Caroline County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens and other members of the school system’s staff.
“We do a large sampling so students get to taste everything,” said Caroline County Public Schools Food Operations Manager Sam Figueroa. “We try and highlight the classes and the farms.”
Figueroa said everything in the cafeteria at Federalsburg Elementary School during the week is from farm to tray. Blue catfish cakes, an invasive species to the Chesapeake Bay, are being pushed for use in school lunches for their taste and environmental benefit. Local Cambridge bison burgers also were on the menu.
An agricultural trailer with interactive displays from the University of Maryland Extension program also parked at the school. Tom Hudson, a Caroline County 4-H educator, led students through the trailer, which included opportunities for students to learn about the state’s agricultural exports. The state’s most exported
agricultural products are wheat, barley and assorted produce, Hudson said.
Students also could try milking a cow, fit with a plastic and rubber udder, or measuring a horse in hands using a scale set to the inside of the trailer. Students also examined displays of various corn grown around the state, as well as the versatility of soy, and the products it is used in.
“The main purpose of the trailer is to promote the main agricultural products in Mar yland,” Hudson said. “Some trailers have hands on labs like this one and students spend 45 minutes learning about the farms around them.”
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder also spoke during the event, touching on the impor tance of using blue catfish in school lunches across the state.
“It’s not only good for you and good tasting, it also helps one of our most important national resources, the Chesapeake Bay,” Bartenfelder said. “With the Chesapeake Bay, we want more crabs, more rockfish and guess what one of the favorite parts of the blue catfish diet is? Baby crab and baby rockfish.”
Jodi Callahan, animal science teacher at Caroline County Career Technology Center, spoke briefly about the relationship between her students and the farm to tray program. The newest addition, a barn housing hogs, goats, a dairy cow and other agricultural products, gives students hands on experience with basic veterinary care and animal husbandry, she said.
“Students learn how to administer medications, ultrasounds, do artificial insemination and then they also help with the birthing process of animals,” Callahan said.
CCPS Food Services Director Beth Brewster talked about current and future initiatives involving agriculture education in the county. Lockerman Middle School in Denton produced 7,600 pounds of produce during the summer, which was then frozen and stored for future use in lunches, she said.
In 2017, CCPS won the Turnip the Beet! High Quality Summer Meals Award from the United States Department of Agriculture for serving local produce throughout the summer. CCPS’s food service department also is applying for a grant to pilot a mobile farmers market, which will make stops at known “food desert” locations in the county.
The next initiative will focus on farm to tray food, as well as tray to farm compost, Brewster said. The project is currently ongoing at Ridgley Elementar y School, where the school composts about 800 pounds a day.
Caroline County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patricia Saelens, back left, and Federalsburg Elementary School Principal Yolanda Holloway, back right, have lunch with Federalsburg students during the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week showcase at the school Friday, Sept. 28.
From left, North Caroline High School culinary students Johny Castro, left, and Jordan Albrecht serve watermelon juice from Harris Farms during the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week showcase at Federalsburg Elementary School Friday, Sept. 28.
North Caroline High School culinary student David Ross serves crabs during the Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week showcase at Federalsburg Elementary School Friday, Sept. 28.