Above, left to right: Dr. Jennifer Cenatiempo, Green Hills School Superintendent; Erin Freeborn Lytle, Tranquillity Farms; Carter Derby, Green Hills student; and Lisa Miller, Maschio’s Food Services.

Below: Green Hills Art Teacher Justin Wynne

Over the past year, Eric Derby, the Foodshed Alliance’s Sustainable Agriculture Enterprise (SAgE) program manager, and Christine Parauda, manager of our the LocalShare gleaning program, attended planning meetings with district officials of several Sussex County schools to discuss how they could utilize more fresh, local produce in their cafeterias.

One school, Green Hills Elementary in Green Township, working with their food service management company, Maschio’s Food Services, wanted to teach students about consuming locally grown food and supporting local farms, and help students develop an appreciation for the fruits and vegetables grown in their own communities. On May 12, Green Hills Elementary and Maschio’s put together “Chef Day,” a farm-to-table tasting event offering chicken alfredo pasta with roasted asparagus, followed by strawberry shortcake for dessert. The meal featured asparagus, spinach, lettuce, and strawberries sourced from Tranquillity Farms – right down the road from the school!

Maschio’s and Dr. Jennifer Cenatiempo, superintendent of Green Hills, worked together to not only serve a delicious meal to the students, but to tell a story of where the food came from, the work put into growing it, and its higher nutritional value. As young people understand the importance of local food, they will take pride in making healthier, more localized choices.

The day was a great hit among students, staff, and the school community and it is only the first of many farm-to-table tasting events for Green Hills. In the future, the Foodshed Alliance hopes to work with Green Hills Elementary and Maschio’s Food Service to develop a model to help other schools implement similar programs.

Local farm-fresh produce being enjoyed by the young people of our communities, while simultaneously helping them understand and appreciate where their food is coming from and how it fuels their bodies is so important for the future stability of our local food system. Thank you to the staff at Green Hill Elementary and to Maschio’s Food Service for your hard work and dedication to this mission!