Traverse City Area Public School kids enjoy a locally sourced lunch

Traverse City Area Public School celebrates National School Lunch Week and National Farm to School Month by serving all local lunch.

Traverse Heights Elementary students choose local chicken, squash and apple crisp.

Traverse Heights Elementary students choose local chicken, squash and apple crisp.

On Monday, Oct.10, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) held Local Lunches in cafeterias across Traverse City. Not only is October National Farm to School Month, but Oct. 10 was the first day of National School Lunch Week 2016. What better way to celebrate both holidays than by planning a school lunch menu that takes advantage of all the bounty Michigan has to offer during harvest season.

The TCAPS Monday menu featured local baked chicken, roasted winter squash and apple crisp. The ingredients were purchased from Cherry Capital Foods, a food distributor in Michigan that sources only local and regional products. The majority of the food on the lunch trays that day had traveled less than 50 miles to get there.

At Traverse Heights Elementary, where I serve as a FoodCorps service member with Michigan State University Extension, the special menu was very well received. Pitted against tough competition (macaroni and cheese as “choice two”), the local feast was gobbled up faster than I expected. By the time the lunchroom was cleared, only one serving of apple crisp and one pan of squash were left.

“I think kids really like this stuff - something different that isn’t your typical school lunch,” says Ambur Hammond, Kitchen Leader at Traverse Heights. “Some of the kids will surprise you with how adventurous they are.”

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