MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY -Schools face a common battle: making sure they offer kids healthy meals they will actually eat. And the guidelines they follow are strict, from food preparation to balancing fruits and vegetables to monitoring salt levels, but one local school found an innovative way to get students interested in a healthy lunch.
There are two greenhouses at McCracken County High School, but the students say where these veggies and spices end up is the most rewarding part. Jacob Locke is a senior at McCracken County High School and says his favorite part as an agriculture student is harvesting his hard work and “the fact we’re blessed enough to have things like this to help provide food —good healthy food.”
His tomatoes, squash, cabbage, and spices end up right on his peers’ lunch trays.
The agriculture students collaborate with culinary students like Terrilynn Melton to provide food for their friends. When they first had the responsibility of cooking and preparing herbs, Melton says, “we got out here and cooked it, and it was a lot better than we thought it was going to be. I liked it.”
McCracken County Schools Food Service Director Sara Hedges tasked the student group to help flavor the school’s food with herbs because salt shakers aren’t allowed in the cafeteria.”I think the kids really enjoyed seeing how something so basic, like chicken or a potato, could be transformed,” Hedges says. She says it won’t take long for the rest of the student body to catch on to the enthusiasm and their new spice bar.
“It not only helps the school, it helps us as a student learn how to take care of something, how to manage something, “Locke adds.
There is a limit as to how much the greenhouses can produce, so the school does use other food sources as well.
McCracken County High does save some cash from using student-grown produce, but says its primary purpose is to serve as an educational experience.