Health

Jefferson County Public Schools students will get a plate full of locally grown food for lunch this week.

As part of National Farm to School Month, JCPS cafeteria’s will serve a menu full of locally grown food at district elementary, middle and high schools on Wednesday and Thursday.

The school district began its farm-to-school initiative about eight years ago with a bunch of apples from Huber’s Orchard and Winery in Starlight, Ind.

Now, there are seven local farmers in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee providing produce for JCPS.

Dan Ellnor, manager of the Nutrition Service Center at JCPS, said the Farm to School program is one among several ways the school district teaches kids about where their food comes from.

“There are kids, honestly, who don’t know that ketchup comes from a tomato,” he said.

Last year, 3 percent of the district’s produce came from local farmers, and JCPS spent $124,000 on local produce. So far this year, $131,000 has been spent on local foods. JCPS wants 10 percent of the produce they serve to students to be local, Ellnor said.

“Our goal would be to incorporate local into every single thing that we do,” he said. “So whether it be a hot item, soup or a stew, or a baked good, getting a little bit in will get us closer to that 10 percent goal.”

The district serves 112,000 meals a day, which means it’s difficult to incorporate locally grown produce into every meal, he said.

On Wednesday, elementary school students can expect to eat antibiotic-free roasted chicken with rotisserie spices or BBQ sauce, roasted butternut squash, sweet corn on the cob, green leaf/bib salad with tomatoes and peppers, blue ribbon muffins and yellow watermelon.

Middle and high school students will have the same menu Thursday.

The Farm to School initiative comes as school districts across the U.S., including JCPS, work to incorporate better nutrition into school meals.