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ValleyHUB and Culinary Arts & Sustainable Food Systems Program Collaborate to Showcase Seasonal Recipes Designed for Schools

Chef Joel Boone’s Cookery class teamed up with ValleyHUB to learn about careers in school food service and create locally-sourced, kid-friendly food for a gathering of ValleyHUB partners.

ValleyHUB and Culinary Arts & Sustainable Food Systems Program Collaborate to Showcase Seasonal Recipes Designed for Schools

Blueberry baked oatmeal, parsnip poutine, breakfast pizza with caramelized squash and bacon, and beet and berry smoothies made with fresh, local ingredients might sound like items from a high-end restaurant’s breakfast menu. But these recipes were developed to appeal to kids by students in Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Culinary Arts program, who cooked for a gathering of school food service professionals, local farmers, Michigan Department of Education farm to program consultants, and ValleyHUB staff. Attendees feasted on these and other creative dishes like open-faced sloppy joes, breakfast burritos, pizza quesadillas, beef and black bean tacos, and pasta with a choice of delicious sauces as they discussed the challenges and opportunities of connecting local farms to local schools through farm to program purchasing.

Chef Joel Boone worked with ValleyHUB staff to source an abundance of local ingredients and challenged his students to develop nutritious seasonal recipes that would appeal to kids and could be adapted to fit into school meal programs. Students learned about school meal requirements and researched example recipes before turning their creativity and culinary skills to the ingredients at hand. Kalamazoo Valley alum Kirsten Strong, now Resident Dietitian Nutritionist at Kalamazoo Public Schools, provided guidance and talked with the students about career opportunities in institutional food service. 

While enjoying the delicious food and refreshing themselves with glasses of rhubarb lemonade (a family recipe from one of the students), attendees talked about the seasonality of Michigan produce and the challenges of incorporating local foods into school menus. Robyn Schultz of Schultz Fruitridge Farms shared the story of her family’s farm and described the different flavor profiles of their many (almost 30!) varieties of apples. Foodservice Consultant Glenn Noffsinger talked about his work to reduce barriers faced by food service staff when incorporating fresh foods into their menus. Michigan Department of Education Farm to Program Consultant Wendy Crowley provided advice on available grant funding and purchasing strategies that can help food service directors stretch their local food dollars.

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 Together with our partners, ValleyHUB is working hard to help food service staff provide meals to kids made with top-quality, local ingredients. Over the past sixteen months, our number of institutional food service buyers has increased by almost 800%! That’s a lot more healthy food nourishing the growing brains and bodies of our kids. Big thanks to Chef Joel and the CUL111 students for inspiring us to consider different and delicious recipes for preparing this food in ways that kids will enjoy!

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May 07, 2024
By: Amy Buskirk, Food Systems Education Program Manager
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