Farm to school lunches in Nevada County

SCHOOL CAFETERIA FOOD HAS become a “cuisine” in its own right but not in a desirable way. It conjures up images of unhealthy, unimaginative and unsatisfying meals. A survey by a group called “Fed Up” showed a majority of students threw out part of their lunches multiple times per week.

But a “farm to school” program in western Nevada County is bucking the trend by supporting healthy local foods in the school system. It could be a model for other schools, and we expect it to generate national attention.

This year, Nevada Union High School is closing the campus during the lunch hour and improving the cafeteria menu to include fresh, local food—such as a salad bar filled with fruits and veggies from local farms whenever possible and fresh bread that is delivered daily.

Our region is an ideal place for “farm to school” programs because of the large number of farms and ranches within a short distance. We also are home to artisan food makers.

“We are working closely with local farms to secure produce that is grown locally and regionally; this means students can expect colorful summer vegetables when they begin the school year, crisp apples as they enter autumn and savory root vegetables as they turn the corner into winter,” say school administrators.

Freshly prepared salads are available, including one featuring raspberries, walnuts and feta. Also new this year is a build-your-own- sandwich bar, where students can add fresh produce to their sandwich that is made with freshly baked bread from Truckee Sourdough Company.

Freshly made hot sandwiches on bread from Truckee Sourdough Company also are being offered, including pulled pork, southwest chicken and pesto chicken.

Made-from-scratch pizza dough is used to create cheese, pepperoni and specialty pies. A variety of wraps and burritos are available.

The school district is partnering with other local businesses including Culture Shock Yogurt, Carolines Coffee Roasters, Tess’ Kitchen Store, Sierra Harvest and Nevada County Grown. “This is just the beginning,” say school administrators. “We are moving toward a completely fresh, cooked- from-scratch food program.”

Elevate Tahoe
Growing food at 6,000 feet presents some real challenges. But a Dome Raising project at Lake Tahoe is mak- ing it easier. Growing domes are four-season growing structures for colder climates.

The Dome Raising project is a collaboration between local school districts, Tahoe Food Hub and others to demonstrate the ability to grow food year-round in a mountain climate. Schools and hospitals will be able to supply their cafeterias with food grown on-site, and the dome will be an “outdoor learning center.”

A video is here.

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