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Nice piece in the Oregonian about the Abernethy Elementary School in South Portland, Oregon, which the paper describes as “the rare U.S. public school with meals made from scratch, but the school's 5-year-old comprehensive food curriculum goes much further. The cafeteria - dubbed Abernethy Cafe - uses ingredients from the school's gardens, where students grow everything from apples to zucchini. The kitchen also develops and tests recipes for use in other Portland schools.

“And the school brings food education into the classroom. Recently, students used strawberries they had grown to make a salad and a drink. ‘Woven through food-related activities are lessons in math, science, history and social studies,’ said Sarah Sullivan, the school's garden coordinator.”

Here’s the kicker, according to the paper: “The kids love it.”

The paper notes that Nicole Hoffman “became school chef two years ago after volunteering two years in the kitchen while completing training at Portland's Western Culinary Institute. Now she creates appealing meals such as chicken panang curry and falafel with cucumber raita -- all within the confines of U.S. Department of Agriculture nutritional guidelines for school lunches.

“The test kitchen is considered a demonstration program, though, and hasn't been copied at other schools largely because of funding issues. The school receives the same amount per meal for its school lunch program as other district schools but pays higher labor costs for Hoffmann and an assistant to make meals rather than heat and serve prepared foods, said Shannon Stember, assistant director of the district's Nutrition Services. The PTA covers garden costs.”
KC's View:
There is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow...Nicole Hoffman will be at the White House tomorrow, meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama to talk about her anti-obesity initiatives.

As far as broader applicability ... this is Oregon. I’m not sure that this program could be transplanted to many other places, but I also think that we never know what is possible until we try, until we make issues like healthy food in school more of a priority.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to find an excuse to go to the Abernethy Elementary School for lunch.