The Buffalo Public Schools District is the recipient of a state Farm to School Grant. WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the funding will allow the district to increase the use of healthy foods served up on school menus.
In some Buffalo schools, students have been not only trying healthier foods in their cafeterias, but they're also learning about where the produce originated from.
"To have some identity with our public school students in Buffalo and have them see where it came from on the map and how far it traveled to get to our schools," said Bridget O'Brien Wood, Food Service Director for the district.
Right now, 11 city schools across the district are participating in a pilot program called Harvest of the Month from Pre-K through 12th grade. The $43,000 state grant will allow the program to continue. The district is one of six statewide recipients.
"In February we are going to start it up and we are going to feature squash, Hubbard squash and we are going to use local farmers with in New York State," said O'Brien Wood.
Earlier this year, a grant from the USDA allowed the district to set up the pilot program. Students have tried state-grown brussel sprouts, kale and potatoes, specialty produce that has been served up on the school menu.
"Why kale? Kale is grown here in New York State," said O'Brien Wood. "In September, that's what was really being harvested all throughout New York, so that was the important piece, to say 'It's a great green and it's really nutritious and it's grown right here in New York.'"
What did students think about eating the brussel sprouts and kale?
"There was a high school that wasn't happy with some of those items, but overall they liked everything," said O'Brien Wood.
Students are given a chance to vote on the and fill out surveys on the recipes they sampled.
"So the crazy kale chips, 1,300 liked them and almost 900 didn't like them," noted O'Brien Wood.
O'Brien Wood says she hopes to be able to expand the program to all schools in the future, teaching students about fresh produce and eating well.