Local Foods for Local Schools – online procurement discussion

On December 4, 2023 the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network hosted a FREE virtual Meet-Up for Farmers and NWTN School Nutrition Directors to:

1. Discuss procurement trends and issues

2. Cultivate relationships with NWTN School Nutrition Directors

3. Create pathways for collaboration to innovative local food procurement

4. Share Market and Funding Opportunities with Farmers & Schools

Share, network and learn from a panelist of experts including Dan Spatz from Healthy Flavors Arkansas/Tennessee, Brenda Williams from Communities Unlimited, Jiwon Jun from EAT Real.org, Mike Brown from the TN Dept. of Agriculture, hear news from the new Appalachian Regional Food Business Center, and Caroline Ideus & Samantha Goyret from the Northwest TN Local Food Network. We will be planning for the 2024 school year by connecting NWTN School Nutrition Directors to Farmers. We hope for a fruitful discussion as we plan for 2024!

Watch the recorded video below:

Watch the recorded meeting he
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Additional Resources Shared:

Local Food Procurement Resources:

Opportunities for engagement

  • Spring 2024 Local Foods for Local Schools funding must be spent by August 2024.
  • NIFA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Project: SAE Internships with Farmers 2024/2025 – To be determined upon funding to the NWTN Local Food Network in May 2024

TN Farm to School Institutes

GAP Certification Overview

~ NOTES FROM THE MEETING ~

Procurement Trends and Issues –  Dan Spatz, Healthy Flavors AK/TN

  1. Dan is transitioning his family farm from commodity crops to specialty vegetable crops and sourcing his locally grown foods into schools.
  2. Many are aware that the types of foods children & anybody in your community consumes are important to one’s overall health.
  3. Create opportunities to sit-down with people, face-to-face, and cultivate relationships with institutions – it’s a win-win on both sides. 
  4. We need more farmers willing to take managed risk. It might not be intuitive as the easiest way of selling food, but the childhood nutrition program in our schools is the largest restaurant in Tennessee.
  5. What we have coming off the farm is not packaged the way the school nutrition facilities are used to receiving it.  
  6. How do we get the food off the farm and have it ready for use in Childhood nutrition programs?
  7. You have to have a mind-set of customer service.
  8. The pricing directly from farms is not inline with school nutrition budget / allocations.  Commodities are much more affordable than direct farmer sales; however recent funding has allowed for more local food purchases
  9. Farmers – Don’t think, as a farmer, that you’re doing this on your own.  There are many resources available for farmers through grants and other incentives.   

NWTN School Nutrition Directors (and contact info!) who have receive Farm to School, Local Foods for Schools or Healthy Incentives Funding – 

Meeting Notes

What is the funding that you have now?  – NWTN School Nutrition Directors

  1. Trista Snider (Weakley Co.) – received funds through a grant (Local Foods for Schools (LFS) & Healthy Meals Incentive Grant, looking to source anything that is available.  The grants have allowed us to hire a school nutrition consultant / chef to train staff to improve techniques and recipes for scratch cooking.
    1. Particularly looking for meat products.  
    2. Barriers – costs and deliveries from the farmers.  
    3.  Weakley County School Nutrition Facebook page
  1. Lisa Seiber-Garland (Trenton SSD)- Received money through grant (Local Foods for Schools -LFS & Healthy Meals Incentive Grant) buys as much as possible and is able to buy local products at market rate.  The grants have helped us buy equipment & to hire extra staff to help prepare local foods, fresher foods, more scratch cooking.
    1. Sourcing from Stockyard Market (Stockyard Burger every friday), starting to get pork from them,  purchases produce from area farmers, Blackberry Pond Farm
    2. Vision – ALL of our students want to eat in the cafeteria, it’s their cafe. The food is always good. Every child has at least two good meals every day and they are enjoyable and students tell people about their school food. When we have a happy child, with their tummies full, they can study and learn better.

The good thing about being a school nutrition director is that we all work together, share resources and gather ideas. It is a tough profession to be in, but we have a lot of support from one another.

~Lisa Seiber-Garland, Trenton Special School District

Create pathways for collaboration to innovative local food procurement – Mike Brown – TN Dept of Ag 

What’s Needed in the future in 2024 to get more food in schools?  

Sue Miller – Blackberry Pond Farm, Martin, TN, Weakley County , West TN

  • Currently they have excess Scarlett Queen and Thai turnips & Beets right now. Additionally they have micro-greens available for taste tests. Microgreens have a high nutrient content.

Tyler Smith  – Future Visions Farms, Whitlock, TN, Henry County, West TN

  • Strawberries (Mid/late April- June) – can deliver to schools 
  • If you can’t be competitive with wholesale dealers, don’t try 
  • Growing for volume – cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, butternut, spaghetti, acorn, kombucha, new potatoes. Sweet onions (red and yellow)
  • Henry County has not received any grants to purchase local foods.
  • GAP Certification – the farm is GAP Certified which has been necessary for the large distributors/ market  – it’s a lot of redundant, tedious paperwork. It takes time.

Ryan Gunn – Blueberry Farms, Cottage Grove, Williamson County, Middle TN 

  • Small-Scale Beef Producer
  • Competitive Pricing
  • How small of a producer is too small for schools?
    • There is no size limit. We have sourced one beef cattle into schools and that was fine. Most importantly it needs to  be USDA certified processed, the measurements are equal – i.e. exactly 5lb packages.
  • Delivery is also a factor but could be included in the cost of the product
  • They deliver from farm to freezer
  • Dignity and Food should always be hand-in-hand. It’s good to know that people care about food and have dignity for their school food.

Keep up to date with our Harvest of the Month program here: https://nwtnlfn.org/taste-of-tennessee/

Register in this year’s NWTN Local Food Guide (it’s free!) – only for farms and producers living in Northwest Tennessee.

Thank you for your interest in the local foods for local schools online discussion. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Caroline Ideus or Samantha Goyret with questions or concerns.

Local Food Hero Awards Announced

Congratulations to the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Local Food Hero awardees – Bell Family Farms, out of Gleason, TN and Blackberry Pond Farm, out of Martin, TN! They were announced during the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network’s Farm to Table Dinner mid October 2023.

“The Local Food Hero awards bring attention to individuals and family farms who deserve to be recognized, and whose work is integral to the sustainance of our local food system,” stated Samantha Goyret, Director of the NWTN Local Food Network.

The Local Food Hero awards Farmers who demonstrate leadership in our communities by:

  • Adhering to responsible environmental and/or social practices
  • Producing high-quality products and/or services
  • Positively impacting the local economy
  • Committing to building and maintaining a robust local food system

“We are honored to be awarded as a local food hero along with our friends Bell Family Farms tonight,” stated Sue Miller, co-owner of Blackberry Pond Farm. “Thank you NWTN Local Food Network for hosting this event and creating a more equitable food economy locally!”

Ashley and Darrell Bell from Bell Family Farms was awarded this year’s Local Food Hero Award! Their farm, located in Gleason, TN, is feeding school children all over our region with their locally grown foods.

Blackberry Pond Farm, Martin, TN, supplies the community & schools with hydroponic greens and vegetables.

Bell Family Farms, Gleason, TN, has supplies the community and schools with their locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Together we are cultivating a thriving and equitable local food system for all in our region! Join us by shopping local, supporting farmers, joining our network, and learning more about our local farmers at nwtnlfn.org/food-resources.

Students Return to the Drawing Board for Harvest of the Month Poster Contest

Student artists in K-12th grades are invited to submit Harvest of the Month poster entries during Farm to School Month from October 1st through October 31st. All students in the following school districts from our 9-county region are eligible to participate from Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Lake, Henry, Obion and Weakley County Schools.

In celebration of National Farm to School Month through an initiative of the Farm to School program of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, the 2024-25 school year Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month poster series will feature artwork selected by a panel of volunteer judges – artwork needs to be postmarked by November 3, 2023. All materials can be downloaded at nwtnlfn.org/taste-of-tennessee

The Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month is an educational marketing program that encourages students and their communities to learn more about local food including its seasonality and sustainability. Each month a different fruit, vegetable, or protein is highlighted, reflecting the current growing season in Tennessee.

To enter the poster contest, students must portray one of the prescribed fruits,  vegetables, or proteins, and submit entries to their school cafeteria managers by October 31, 2023.The winner will be announced before the end of the school year.. 

Winners’ artwork will be displayed in the Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month poster series  on the walls of participating school cafeterias starting in 2024.. 

Artwork submission deadline is on Tuesday, October 31, 2023 and must be postmarked by November 3, 2023. Winners will receive region wide recognition and their featured Taste of Tennessee Harvest of the Month product prize.

Please send artwork to: Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, HOTM Poster Contest, 113 Elm Street, Martin, TN 37237. For questions, please email nwtnfoodguide@gmail.com or call (731) 332-9071.

To download the registration packet, including the rules to participate and registration form, please visit: nwtnlfn.org/taste-of-tennessee. The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a nonprofit organization serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL. #GetitLocal #FarmtoSchool #TasteofTN

NWTN Farm to School Partnerships win $1 Million through Action for Healthy Kids & Local Foods in Schools Grants

As part of a cooperative agreement to develop and implement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative, Action for Healthy Kids today announced that it is awarding nearly $30 million in subgrants to 264 school districts across 44 states and the District of Columbia, reaching students in some of our nation’s highest need schools. These funds are being provided by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.

Out of nine (9) grants awarded throughout the state of Tennessee, four (4) of these grants were awarded to the following Northwest Tennessee Schools: Bradford Special School District – $144,086; Milan Special School District – $144,086; Trenton Special School District – $144, 086; and Weakley County School District – $150,000 totaling $582,258 for Northwest Tennessee School Districts.

“We are so grateful to be a recipient of the Healthy Meals Incentive Grant.  This $150,000 grant will be a tremendous asset and will enable us to replace some antiquated equipment,” stated Trista Snider, Director of Weakley County Schools Nutrition Department.  “We will also consult with a chef that specializes in K-12 operations to assist us in learning how to prepare even more delicious, scratch meals, incorporate efficiency hacks, and assist in learning how to incorporate more locally grown produce and locally raised meat.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, a local nonprofit based out of Martin, TN, was a fundamental partner in helping facilitate the formation of the Healthy Meals Incentive projects. 

“Our mission is to catalyze actions that are increasing access to a thriving and equitable local food system for all in our region,” stated Caroline Ideus, Outreach Director and Farm to School Consultant of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN). “Access to healthy food is vital for our growing children. Our school nutrition programs have proven to be a vital asset and the largest classroom in every school. Through our established Farm to School partnerships in Bradford, Milan, Trenton and Weakley School Districts, we are helping advance their farm to school initiatives through increased access to healthy and nutritious meals, nutrition education, and fortifying school nutrition programs across our region.”

Earlier this year, the LFN facilitated additional grant applications with four additional school districts (Crockett County Schools, Trenton Special Schools, Weakley County Schools and Cheatham County Schools) to receive a grant for TN school districts called “Local Foods for Schools” grant through the TN Department of Education. This grant aims to help offset costs for local food  purchasing, storing and distributing local foods from local farms.

Each small and/or rural school district will receive up to $150,000 to support them in improving the nutritional quality of their meals and modernizing their operations, through efforts which could include:

  • Innovative staff training programs;
  • Redesigning food preparation and service spaces;
  • Kitchen updates and renovations;
  • Other school-district led efforts to support school meals and school nutrition professionals.

“When we strengthen school meal quality, we strengthen child health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “These grants are the largest targeted investment USDA has ever made for school meal programs in small and rural communities. We want to ensure every child in America has the opportunity to attend a school with high quality, nutritious meals, and this support is a step in that direction.”

An online map features the selected school districts and their grant amounts. The map will be updated on a rolling basis as schools formalize their grant agreements.

“Offering healthier school meals is key to helping our nation’s kids get the nutrients they need today and for their long-term development,” said Action for Healthy Kids CEO Rob Bisceglie. “Through this historic investment in school nutrition, we will help school districts across the country overcome challenges and develop solutions to provide nutritious foods for the children they serve.”

USDA and Action for Healthy Kids also recently opened applications for the Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards, which celebrate school districts that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals. All school districts in the United States are invited to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis through June 30, 2025.

School districts that meet Recognition Award criteria will receive benefits such as national and local recognition; travel stipends to attend a national Healthy Meals Summit; access to diverse best practices, training activities; and more.

Action for Healthy Kids will manage the grants to school districts, Recognition Awards, and Healthy Meals Summits with the support of The Chef Ann Foundation and Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education.

FNS works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the National School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs, the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022, highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.

Action for Healthy Kids is dedicated to improving children’s health and well-being by bringing together and mobilizing educators, families, and other key stakeholders to help children lead healthy lives. Through its core programming and family-school partnerships, AFHK has impacted more than 20 million children in 55,000 schools nationwide to address systemic challenges in underserved communities. To learn more about its growing network of volunteers and champions, visit www.actionforhealthykids.org.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network envisions a sustainable regional food system that utilizes locally grown and produced foods to promote healthy individuals, equitable communities and thriving local economies. The LFN serves as a consulting partner to growing Farm to School initiatives throughout Northwest Tennessee. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s School Nutrition program is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions. TN School Nutrition administers the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Afterschool Snack Program across the state. All public schools in Tennessee are on the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. Learn more at www.tn.gov/education/health-and-safety/school-nutrition.html

Source: Weakley County School Nutrition Department
This is a snapshot of a school meal provided by Weakley County School District in March 2023, sourcing strawberries from Bell Family Farms out of Gleason, TN, local milk from Prairie Farms, and FFA school grown hydroponic lettuce. The Weakley County Farm to School Initiative plants the seeds for students to learn where their food comes from by growing, observing, and experiencing hands-on opportunities. The growth of the initiative occurs as educators, farmers, and local ag-based entities work together to create a nationally recognized sustainable model. Learn more about NWTN Farm to School Action Plan visions and goals at nwtnlfn.org/programs/farm-to-school

Grow Food Challenge Winner Announced and Hunger Relief Guide Published

Beginning on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22 through July 1, 2023, the #GrowFoodChallenge partnered with 14 Seed Distribution Partners in 9 northwest Tennessee counties to distribute 2,700 seed packets donated by the Society of St. Andrews, Sow True Seed, Community Gardens Commission, Barefoot Gardens, and Ferry Morris. 

The #GrowFoodChallenge is a yearly call to action for individuals, families, schools, & community groups in Northwest Tennessee to grow food (#NWTNEssentialGardens) & build soil (#ComePostYourCompost). Local growers are encouraged to donate their extra produce to food pantries throughout the region by visiting the NWTN LFN’s webpage: nwtnlfn.org/volunteer/plant-a-row-for-the-hungry.

Doubling the amount last year, this year 105 participants registered, impacting a total of 609 individuals, families, and childcare centers, including 338 children from five (9) Northwest Tennessee Counties: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Henry, Lake, Obion, and Weakley, TN. 

#Grow Food Challenge participants could participate in three themed photo entry opportunities to win prizes: START. GROW. HARVEST. Participants entered up to a total of 6 photos showcasing their growing food and food waste projects. There were several prizes associated with each theme including the grand prize to fill a chest freezer with a quarter processed beef from NB Beef Company.

On Saturday, July 1st, at the Martin Farmer’s Market Celebration Event, Samantha Goyret and Caroline Ideus, Local Food Network Team Members and Co-Managers of the Market, with the help of musician Alex Sadler, announced the winner of this year’s #Grow Food Challenge. 

The McKenzie Senior Center from Carroll County, TN was announced as the grand prize winner! They won a chest freezer to include a quarter processed beef from NB Beef Company out of Sharon, TN. 

“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with NWTN Local Food Network to provide this type of offering. Eat local and Eat beef!” – Justin Burlison

These gifts keep on giving because, as a collective decision, the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center will be donating their freezer full of beef to United Neighbors, a local food pantry in Carroll County, TN.

“We have been serving our community’s seniors since 1963 with a total 82 active annual members today,” stated Carol Armpriest, President of the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center.  “We decided to donate our grand prize to United Neighbors because they could use a freezer full of local beef for their clientele in our community. It aligns with the activities the Local Food Network is promoting in the #GrowFoodChallenge – provide your extra food to others who are in need.”

Photo: (Left to Right) Carol Armpriest, Samantha and Sofia Goyret, and Karen Ibarra pose with the Hunger Relief Guide and their #GrowFoodChallenge Winner Certificate in front of the McKenzie Senior Citizens Center square-foot garden that is located behind their building, near the EW James Grocery Store parking lot in McKenzie, TN. They will be donating their prize to United Neighbors, a local food pantry.

Karen Ibarra, also pictured, partnered with Carol in creating the garden with the goal of benefiting the McKenzie Senior Center members and local community with vegetables and knowledge about growing your own food. As a UT Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Mrs. Ibarra stated, “sharing the garden experience and the beef also aligns with the mission of the Tennessee Master Gardener Program to improve the lives of Tennesseeans by promoting individual and community health and environmental stewardship.”

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN with a mission to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL in Northwest Tennessee.

We hope you can join us for next year’s Northwest Tennessee #GrowFoodChallenge. Learn more at nwtnlfn.org/grow-food-challenge.

The #GrowFoodChallenge is paid for through a #SeedMoney Grant with the following generous seed donors; Society of St. Andrews, Sow True Seed, Ferry Morse Company, Cooperative Gardens Commission; and the following prize donors: Discovery Park of America, Greenway Nursery, Tractor Supply Company, Walmart, Bamboozle, the TN Environmental Council, Rural King and NB Beef Company.

Pictured here, left Samantha Goyret and Right Caroline Ideus present a sign of gratitude to NB Beef Company owners – Cody Nanney and Justin Burlison, who donated a quarter of their locally raised and processed beef to the #GrowFoodChallenge Grand Prize Winner: McKenzie Senior Center who will be donating their prize to United Neighbors, a food pantry in Carroll County.

Kailyn Bates out of Huntington, TN won the #GrowfoodChallenge gift basket!

The NWTN Local Food Network recently published a Hunger Relief Guide. Local growers are encouraged to donate their extra produce to food pantries throughout the region by downloading the guide from NWTN LFN’s webpage: nwtnlfn.org/volunteer/plant-a-row-for-the-hungry.

Owen Wenz, is the #GrowFoodChallenge winner of a family pass for four from Discovery Park of America! Owen is very knowledgeable about plants and loves to grow food! It’s little guys like him that inspire big kids like us to grow more food and reduce food waste!

Margaret Perry Childcare Center inWeakley County, Tennessee won theBamboozle compost pail prize from this year’s#GrowFoodChallenge. The staff and children not only grow healthy food, they serve healthy food in their daycare meals, too!#farmtoECE

Bethany Overington from Carroll County won the START prize for the #GrowFoodChallenge donated by Tractor Supply out of Milan, TN.

Farmers Input Needed: Act NOW!

TN Farmers Act Now. The LFN is seeking Tennessee farmers to take this very important survey by April 15, 2023! This voluntary survey will take about 10 minutes to complete and asks about your general views and input to help develop more Farm to School connections across the State of Tennessee. Those who complete the survey will be entered to win a free Local Food Network t-shirt and a variety of seeds.

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN) is a nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN with a mission to serve as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to all in Tennessee. The LFN has been partnering with school districts to develop thriving and equitable Farm to School initiatives in Tennessee Schools.

The LFN researches & develops tailored, economically sustainable solutions for schools, farmers & ranchers to avoid duplication & drive meaningful change. We do this through collaboration, coordination, and increased connections between local food sources and consumers.

Some programs the Local Food Network offers regionally is the creation of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide Magazine, Farm to School programming development and support, Local Food Procurement resources, and marketing of Northwest Tennessee Farmers Markets and their vendors products. Although we are regionally based, our network aims to connect farmers listed on the Pick TN Product website and NWTN Local Food Guide in-print magazine with schools across the state of Tennessee.

Through shared knowledge and collaboration, the LFN will mobilize data and research to increase access to information in ways never before possible in Tennessee agriculture. Findings will be incorporated into the new Tennessee Local Food Procurement Manual and apply for grants to support farmers collaborating with the LFN Farm to School programming in Tennessee.

Take the survey here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/tnf2sfarmers2023

Take the Farm to School Farmers Survey HERE.

10 Ways to Celebrate Apples

During the month of September, the NWTN Local Food Network is featuring APPLES as part of the Taste of Tennessee. What better time to enjoy one of our favorite fruits? Here are 10 fun ways to celebrate apples:

1. Read an Apple Book

2. Celebrate Applesauce Day on Saturday, September 17th at the Martin Farmers Market and Martin Public Library and/or with family and friends on Sunday, September 18, 2022

Individuals, families, students and seniors are all encouraged to make applesauce using our simple recipe. Share your applesauce stories with us on facebook by tagging @NWTNLFN #APPLESAUCEDAY.

Celebrate Applesauce Day at the Martin Farmers Market on Saturday, September 17, 2022 from 8am – 12 noon. On 9/17 – Register to attend the Applesauce Cooking Demonstration at the Martin Public Library at 10:30am.
Enjoy making this simple recipe with your family and friends.

3. Compare Apples to Apples

You’ve had an apple, but what kind? With thousands of kinds of apples, you might be surprised how different apples can be. They vary widely in size, color, texture, and flavor. Visit an orchard, farmer’s market, or more and more your local grocery store for a wide selection of varieties.

4. Buy local apples from a Farmers Market near you

Visit a Northwest Tennessee Farmers Market or download a copy of the NWTN Local Food Guide 2022, or check out Pick TN Products to find an apple farmer near you.

5. Give an Apple to a Teacher

The tradition of giving an apple to a teacher started in the 1700s before governments around the world paid for the education of its people. Poor families in Denmark and Sweden gave teachers baskets of apples and potatoes as payment for teaching their children. (source: www.wockenfusscandies.com/blog/the-symbol-of-teachers-apples)

6. Enjoy a simple apple snack

While apples feature in many fine desserts and other dishes, they also shine in simple snacks. Try apple slices:

7. Learn about Johnny Appleseed

You can explore the legend or the history of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. Try these books:

8. Make apple prints

Slice an apple in half or cut out the core and slice off the bottom. Dip the cut side lightly in the paint. Use the apple like a stamp to make prints on your paper.

9. Jumping Apple seeds!

This activity is so neat! All you need to do is fill a cup with water, add apple seeds, and place Alka Seltzer tables in the cup. Watch the seeds jump around! They will move for about ten minutes. If you want to watch them jump again, just place another tablet in the water! Kids LOVE this activity. Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/mBi2VM6KLCs

10. Host an apple feast

Serve all kinds of dishes with apples. Use one of these ideas or your favorite apple dish below or find your favorite dish here:

  • Apple Muffins
  • Applesauce cake
  • Apple pancakes
  • Grilled cheese and apple sandwiches
  • Waldorf salad
  • Curried squash and apple soup
  • Applebutter pork
  • Stuffed baked apples
  • Apple cider (cold or hot and spiced)
  • Apple pie
  • Apple crisp

September may be the Taste of Tennessee apple month, but many types of apples store well so you can enjoy apples for months to come. With so many ways to use apples, the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” can be rewritten as “An apple a day keeps boredom away.”

~ Samantha Goyret
LFN Team Blogger

Students Dish it up in Local Beef Cook-off Challenge

Obion County Central High School students put their culinary skills to the test by crafting their own recipes using locally sourced beef from Giffin Farms, owned by Derek and Micayla Giffin out of Obion County, TN.  The beef was locally sourced through the Obion County Farm to School planning Team with project support from Chastity Homra – Coordinated School Health Director, and Michelle Bruner – OCCHS Culinary Arts Teacher.

Obion County Central High School Culinary Art Student Cook-off Winners (from left to right) second place winner Jason Hood, first place winner Jennifer Guerrero – 1st place winner, and second place winner Charlie Deal

“The Obion County Farm to School team sourced beef from Giffin Farms for the taste test, but we had additional frozen beef left over,” stated Chastity Homra, Coordinated School Health Director.  “The Culinary Arts Students had prepared Giffin Farm Beef for all school cafeterias in November 2021 for a local food taste test. FFA students helped serve the taco-seasoned beef to all students. We decided to host a local beef cook-off to create a fun way to use the local beef and hone the culinary arts students’ skills.” I love getting the kids involved so I thought what better way than to have them have a contest.  I enquired with Mrs. Bruner and she loved the idea.  It was fun hearing how they had to do research on a recipe and then tweak it to make it their own. 

The OCCHS Culinary Arts program offers a hands-on culinary arts training program where students learn about nutrition, cooking techniques, seasonings and flavorings, culinary laws,  food safety and career opportunities. These classes introduce students to a set of skills that combine both nutrition and cooking techniques.

Additionally, students receive hands-on training by working in the school cafeteria, side-by-side with school nutrition professionals. They provide meals to teachers and specialty meals.

“Prior to the beef taste test, students surveyed had limited knowledge that they could even source beef locally,” commented Caroline Ideus, Obion County Farm to School Coordinator from the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network. “Collectively, we are trying to find innovative ways to support school nutrition departments in helping them procure local foods and finding ways to return scratch cooking to prepare school meals.”

Under the direction of Culinary Arts instructor Michelle Bruner, the local food cook-off challenge gave the budding chefs the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in class and receive feedback on their cooking skills. Six teams with a total of 14 students participated throughout the day. 

The students, working in teams, created their own specialty recipes from scratch then presented them to a group of judges. The young chefs were judged on the following five categories: recipe development, professionalism, sanitation, presentation, and taste.

 “It was a fun experience and I enjoyed creating new recipes.”

Annabella Wooten, OCCHS Culinary Arts student

First place winners, Jennifer Guerrero and Tailior Bolden, worked together to create the perfect beefy quesadilla that included Giffin Farm Beef, diced tomatoes, sliced jalapeno peppers, onions, spices and cheese. 

Second place winners, Jason Hood and Charlie Deal crafted Ground Beef Pinwheels including Giffin Farm beef, cream cheese, bacon bits, cheese tortillas, and spices. Third place winners, Annabella Wooten and Connor Mayo worked together to create Breakfast Beef Bites including Giffin Farm beef, eggs, spices, creamed cheese, milk, and biscuits. All winners received a gift certificate from Sonic and the first-place winner’s recipe will be featured in the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide Magazine 2022 to be published this spring.  You can also find the recipes on the Coordinated School Health website on the homepage of the Obion County Schools website at www.obioncountyschools.com/Page/7956

The award winning recipe will be featured in the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Guide 2022.
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO PRINT AND SHARE RECIPE

Photo: Obion County Central High School Culinary Arts Teacher, Michelle Bruner is passionate about teaching culinary skills to her students. 

~Samantha Goyret & Lauren Kendall
Printed on February 17, 2022 in the Union City Daily Messenger