The “Chefs in Schools Collaborative” project, which helps school cooks learn how to incorporate fresh, local foods in their menus, is up and running at Harlan County High School, reports WYMT-TV.
“Fresh ingredients are always important to a cook,” Judy Gurnee, visiting chef through March, told the Hazard station. “We like to work with the closest available products that we can get … the finest quality.”
Harlan County is one of eight Kentucky school districts in the program. Its cooks asked the visiting chef to help them better use spices on the local vegetables, so that students, whom they described as their “customers,” would eat them.
“I’m for anything that’s going to get the children to eat,” Kitchen Manager Jan Hicks told WYMT. “That’s what we are here for.”
Making sure the kids eat their school lunch is especially important because for some, it is the only meal they get a day, WYMT reports.
“Our kids, one in four are homeless,” Director of Food Service Jack Miniard said. “That means that they are living with a grandparent or they are living with some other family member … so, this may be the only meal that they get a day.”
The program is led by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture‘s Farm to School Program in partnership with the Community Farm Alliance and the National Farm to School Network. Participating school districts are in Boyle, Clark, Grayson, Oldham, Harlan, Martin, Morgan, and Pike counties.