What's for dinner? It's a common refrain in many households; whether this question emanates from your children or even yourself after a long work day, the daily decision is inevitable. Luckily, if you are a parent/guardian of a F.H. Tuttle Middle School student involved in the Farm-to-Go program, you're likely to find yourself posing this question to your kids.
Amy Sutton, the Common Roots’ Food Educator, facilitates the Farm-to-Go program, which is offered Thursdays from 3:30-6:00 pm during the school year. Any middle school student can enroll and there are four sessions each academic year. The class begins immediately following dismissal and starts with a healthy snack before the cooking gets underway. During the class, students learn proper knife skills, how to chop a variety of vegetables using techniques such as, mincing, dicing, and chiffonade. They also learn how to work well as a team, read recipes, implement standard measuring techniques, and how to execute cooking methods like roasting and sautéing.
In addition to gaining valuable cooking acumen, students learn an appreciation for local, fresh ingredients and their importance in creating balanced, nutrient rich meals. The Common Roots Farm at South Village, in addition to other local farms, provides seasonal inspiration for the class. Students take field trips to the farm to harvest vegetables in the fall and learn about planting in the spring. During this academic year, student chefs brought home 834 meals to their families.
So, “What's for dinner?” How about a Vietnamese stir fry with basmati rice, spring rolls and cucumber salad or perhaps roasted acorn squash stuffed with organic turkey, kale, onions, garlic, parsley and rosemary? As the warmer months approach and salads take center stage, students also enjoy whipping up mixed greens with parsley, dill, and basil along with grated beets and carrots, and a variety of tomatoes.
The positive outcomes of this program have been numerous. Some families have been inspired to start their own gardens, while others have begun eating healthy foods that they would not have tried before. Others go to the Common Roots Farmstand at South Village which makes it easy to select fresh, organic veggies and other local ingredients. The Farmstand is located at 55 Allen Road East and is open daily 8 am – 8 pm June 1st through Thanksgiving. When you shop there, you also support five food education and food access programs.
“I think that because of the Farm-to-Go Program more middle school students and staff are talking about how important it is to learn to cook and make and eat healthy foods,” Sutton said. This past September, 19 students signed up for the first session of Farm-to-Go, which is more than double from the year before. Not surprisingly, Sutton noted, “Once the students sign up there is almost always perfect attendance!”
For more information, go to www.commonroots.org or contact Amy Sutton at firstname.lastname@example.org