Thursday, November 17, 2011

From Garden To Table: Woodland Acres Elementary Students, Duval County, FL, Learn Fresh Is Better!

From the Chartwells School Dining Services Employee Newsletter 11/17/2011

From Garden To Table: Woodland Acres Elementary Students, Duval County, FL, Learn Fresh Is Better!


On November 17, students and parents from Woodland Acres Elementary, Duval County, FL, gathered together to learn that fresh food is BETTER food!

Chartwells Thompson School Dining Services began collaborating with Woodland Acres Elementary School during Summer 2011 to help support the school’s newest project: a working school garden. Chartwells donated several fruit, vegetable and herb seedlings and plants to get the school started. Over the past several months, the garden has been tended to by students, parents, faculty and staff with hopes of an abundant fall harvest. And abundant it was. Even Principal Timothy Feagins was shocked at the quantity of fresh vegetables the school was able to grow!

With their tomatoes, green peppers and banana peppers coming in just in time for Woodland Acres’ annual “Family Fitness Night,” Chartwells was invited to utilize the fresh vegetables and herbs to teach families how simple it is to create a fresh snack at home.

Chartwells Thompson School Dining Services Chef Trainer Katie Self and Senior Registered Dietician Sonia Siegel came together to create a fresh, healthy and easy-to-prepare fresh salsa. Chef Katie utilized the school’s freshly grown tomatoes and green peppers and added cilantro, onions and a little lime juice to taste. Students and parents were able to sample the salsa on whole grain tortilla chips.

Senior Registered Dietician Sonia Siegel then treated the group to information on the high nutritional value of salsa, “with fresh vegetables, you can’t go wrong. And it is always important to choose vegetables from various color groups because each color cares for you body in a different way. Tomatoes are high in Vitamin C which helps us heal if we get a scrape, while the lime juice and chopped onions keep your immune system strong to fight off colds. This snack is easy to prepare and packs a nutritional punch by offering a variety of colorful vegetables. Try salsa with baked tortilla chips.”

The night was a great success and students and parents enjoyed seconds (and thirds!) of the salsa made from their garden. “This is so great! Can I have the recipe?” was a common exclamation from the students.

Chef Katie reinforced Chartwells’ commitment to educating students for lifelong health and wellness, “have the kids help you in the kitchen! Let them pull apart the cilantro or dice the tomatoes. Studies have proven it: if a child helps you prepare a snack or meal in the kitchen, they are more likely to eat it and enjoy it themselves. What a great way to get children to try new fruits and vegetables!”