Tallmadge -- Fresh Fork Market, a local Farm Buying Club, brought the event Farm-to-School to Tallmadge High School Feb. 10 through 14. The organization's goal is to educate and spread health awareness.
Fresh Fork Market President Trevor Clatterback said he hopes to work with up to five different school districts this winter. Within those districts, he and his staff will track food and labor costs and other information regarding incorporating local food into a school menu.
Each day during Farm-to-School week, the menu features locally-grown produce and locally-raised meats.
Maureen Pisanick, chief nutrition officer of Pisanick Partners, helped develop the menu. She said she wanted to create healthier options for meals students generally enjoy and allow them to have a choice for a healthier and smarter lunch.
"We see our cafeteria as an extension of the classroom," said Tallmadge City Schools Director of Business Steve Wood. "The more students understand the food supply, the more we're doing our job. It's a great opportunity to get locally grown and healthy food."
Fresh Fork Market's Local Pizza Bar on Feb. 12 offered three different pies for students to choose two slices from. The pizza is made from scratch and uses all local ingredients except for the pepper rings and pepperoni. Students were invited to vote on their favorite slice for a chance at a prize.
The Meat Lover's Pizza appeared to be ahead in the competition. It was popular with wrestlers, as well as and Superintendent Jeff Ferguson, who said it was his favorite so far.
"We're looking at just the beginning of a new partnership," Ferguson said. "When it seems to be a success, we can continue to do these types of things. This is a great opportunity, and I'm looking forward to our future partnership."
Chef-in-Residence at Fresh Fork Market Parker Bosley worked non-stop during the kitchen rush making and cutting pizzas. He said pizza should not be labeled as junk or convenience food because, depending on the ingredients and their source, it can make for a healthy meal.
"This is a great step forward because we're introducing this concept of local food, wholesome food, whole food, nutrient-dense food into the school cafeteria," Bosley said. "We're educating and we're showing this can be done."
Students Hannah Dunlap, Melanie Neal and Breanna Jones agreed the pizza was enjoyable and hoped to see more healthy choices offered. Dunlap found the goat cheese on one of the pizzas quite tasty.
"It's cool they're letting us try new foods," Neal said.
Student Laura Smith also said she enjoyed the pizza and the previous lunches offered.
"It's been a hit so far with students," Wood said. "There have been a number of students and staff who have never eaten lunch here [cafeteria food], and they're taking advantage of it this week. It's generated a lot of excitement."
Clatterbuck said he hopes schools will say "yes" to local products by next year so Fresh Fork Market can plan a menu to incorporate local foods the organization could grow and produce to meet demand.
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