CREEDE - Students of Creede School were greeted by giant, walking vegetables last Tuesday as they entered the cafeteria for a special lunch. Dedicated and skilled Food Service Director Malcolm Sneed, a local chef, is known to serve up delicious and inspired meals to students.
On Tuesday, Sneed partnered with the SLV Farm to School Task Force to host a Harvest of the Month event at the school. The event highlighted Sneed’s ongoing effort to include healthful, local foods in his daily offerings and celebrated one of many local farmers that make it possible.
Ernie New of White Mountain Farm in Mosca and pioneer of quinoa grown in the Valley presented to elementary students in a special assembly before lunch. New focused on quinoa, which the students had eaten on Monday in a Southwest Quinoa Casserole. Highly nutritious and gluten-free quinoa is originally from the Andes Mountains in South America and grows well in the San Luis Valley due to its similar environment. New then fielded questions from teachers and students, answering questions such as “Does everything we eat have to be grown?” and “What brand of tractor do you have?”
Chioggia Beets, also known as Candy Cane Beets, were also sourced from White Mountain Farm and prepared in two different ways on Tuesday for students to try. As students entered the cafeteria, Task Force volunteers adorned in vegetable costumes handed out samples of sweet, pickled beets and the students were given a chance to vote “I loved it!” “I liked it!” or “I don’t know… but I’ll try it again!” The “I loved it!” jar received the most votes at 32, 12 students said they “liked it”, and 21 students said “I don’t know…” It is important that kids are willing to try foods multiple times as their palettes develop because a negative sentiment can shift toward an acquired taste over time.
The beets had also been roasted and were placed on the lunch line as a side. Other items included a savory meat and cheese sandwich, a corn salad, and a make-your-own salad bar, which the students love.
The Task Force is a partnership between the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Valley Educational Gardens Initiative, Integrated Nutrition Education Program, and Cooking Matters of the SLV. In July of 2017 the partnership received a USDA Farm to School Support Services grant to support Farm to School efforts in all 14 school districts of the SLV. Research has shown that Farm to School efforts improve academic performance and engagement, provide healthier foods for our students, and promotes economic activity in the region.
Caption: Students vote on whether or not they like the sample of pickled Chioggia beets./Courtesy photo by Brandon Cox