Cafeteria workers learn to incorporate local produce in - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Cafeteria workers learn to incorporate local produce into meals

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Kids in Lexington-Richland School District Five may be getting better meals at school than they do at home this year.

"We're incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into our school lunch program and breakfast program," Director of Student Nutrition Todd Bedenbaugh said.

District cafeteria employees were at the University of South Carolina's McCutchen House Tuesday to learn cooking skills from culinary experts with the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

"Our goal is to help them learn to process, chop, cut [sic] these local products so they'll be able to utilize that for the school lunch program," Bedenbaugh said.

"We are working with a grant to educate them on local foods, sustainable foods and how we can incorporate them into their cafeterias from K-12," USC Certified Executive Chef Joel Reynolds said. Reynolds is a chef instructor at USC.

The district received a $100,000 federal Farm to School grant to learn how to incorporate the products of local agriculture into the school lunch program.

Bedenbaugh says students will see improved options when they pass through the cafeteria line this year.

"They're gonna' see a change," he said. "This year we've got a lot of new recipes, soups salads, desserts, all made with fresh produce and they'll definitely see a change in our menus."

"We'll also be supporting local farmers, so that's great for the community," Bedenbaugh said.

"Hopefully this movement continues and we're just getting healthier and more conscious about where the food is coming from," Reynolds said. "This is a lifestyle. This is something that once they learn now, it'll stick with them to eat healthier, to be more conscious where the food is coming from."

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