LINCOLN (SNR) - Pius X High School in Lincoln is working to bring the farm to the table – the school cafeteria table.
Gary Fehr of Lincoln Neighbors Urban Farm shared information Feb. 16 with the landscaping club at Pius X, to educate students about his farming operation, how to develop their own gardens, and about the amount of farm fresh foods available in the Lincoln area.
“Having Mr. Fehr speak to our students is very educational and timely,” said Georgia Miller, landscaping club sponsor. The students in the club maintain much of the landscaping on the Pius X campus. “We are working to plant and maintain an herb garden at Pius which will be able to supply our food service program and our Family and Consumer Science classes.”
Tini Van-Oehlertz, Pius X food service director, who met Fehr at a local conference pairing producers and food service programs, called his talk a “natural fit for Nebraska’s rich history in agriculture.”
“The term ‘farm to school’ refers to schools serving local, farm-fresh foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to eggs and honey to meat,” she said.
After meeting Fehr, who was just beginning his vegetable garden, and learning more about the wide-range of farm-fresh products available, Van-Oehlertz began purchasing foods from the Nebraska Food Cooperative to incorporate into Pius’ school lunch program. It was a hit with students, faculty, and staff.
“Some of the products we have been able to serve in our cafeteria so far include butter lettuce, spring mix, radishes, acorn squash, corn, berries, homemade granola and jellies and jams. We have found that the produce has a much longer shelf life, as we do not have a middle–man where products sit in a warehouse for a week or more.”
As Van-Oehlertz began working to incorporate more fresh foods into the school lunch menu, she was especially impressed by the sanitation practices followed by producers to bring the food from the farm to the table.
“Food safety regulations are stringent, and through this process I have received good insight into procurement practices and the sanitation requirements that are a priority for the grower as well as the end facility.”
During the winter months, Van-Oehlertz has been excited to get products grown hydroponically and in green houses.
“Each time the delivery comes it is like Christmas,” she said. “The products are so beautiful, clean, and delicious.”