Hungry For Local


Kevin preparing cookies for lunch

Alex Gaudette, Reporter

As many people know, Harwood Union High/Middle School’s lunches have evolved over the last five years. The school is trying to serve healthy food, buy locally, keep to federal guidelines, and trying to make students happy.

Chef Paul says the school is buying lots of vegetables from Dave Hartshorn, a local farmer in Waitsfield. The school also purchases from the Gaylord farm in Waitsfield, such as beets, broccoli, basil, onions, zucchini. All of this is fresh. During the winter months, the school is getting more squash and lettuce. Most of the lettuce we eat comes from Green Mountain Farms in Rutland. In the fall there is a lot more to choose from than the winter, which offers more beans, potatoes, onions, and carrots, considered storage crops. We get a lot of apples from Champlain apples where they store them and then pull them out when needed. Harwood goes thru five or six cases of apples each week. Students seem to go through a lot more broccoli during the winter months, because there’s not as many vegetables to choose from. Already this year, $50,000 has been spent on local foods, including American Flatbread, Red Hen Bakery, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Cabot Creamery (There is 133 pounds of it in the cooler!), and the Neal farm in Waitsfield, where we purchase about $3,000 worth of local beef.

Meeting federal government regulations and guidelines on school lunches can be a challenging process. Chef Paul feels there are a lot of federal guidelines and the most recent ones have to do with snacks, a change in portion sizes. For instance, the cafeteria serves different ice cream now because the previous company didn’t change its serving sizes fast enough as federal regulations changes. Chef Paul wanted to still offer ice cream to students so the change in who we purchase from had to happen. Harwood’s cafeteria staff had been using whole wheat already that particular guideline did not affect our school. There were serving guidelines of a maximum of two ounces of grain and two ounces of protein last year, but this year those guidelines were dropped, also our kitchen staff has been watching fat and sodium content for years, so our school did not have to make radical changes. Two ounces is not very much; luckily the rules changed and is no longer a big issue.

According to Chef Paul, his staff is trying to cook as much stuff as possible from scratch. Cafeteria staff try to keep up with what students want — the more feedback from students the better. Chef Paul would like to know what people like to eat!

Even though there is one less person on staff in the kitchen, Chef Paul says he is always trying to work on efficiency, “work smarter not harder,” and ensure the food makes the students happy.