Chef, cafeteria manager create experimental school menu, more local produce

Photo courtesy Office of Lt. Governor

The Lieutenant Governor’s pilot project for the Farm-to-School Initiative is well underway in the state Department of Education’s Kohala Complex on Hawaii Island.

Chef Greg Christian, president and founder of Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners, has been selected to work with Cafeteria Manager Priscilla Galan and her staff to bring local, fresh scratch-cooked food to students.

The two of them have been working to develop recipes that incorporate more fresh food that kids both love and are familiar with into the daily menu as well as revamping favorites such as pizza and kalua pig with cabbage.

Chicken adobo sliders (Photo courtesy Office of the Lt. Governor)
Chicken adobo sliders (Photo courtesy Office of the Lt. Governor)

Taste testings on the experimental menu based on recipes co-created by Christian and the cafeteria staff are conducted daily at the Kohala Complex schools. Some dishes that a number of classes have taste tested include a new pizza recipe, pork adobo with ulu/garlic crisp, chicken adobo sliders with green papaya, and more.

Produce for the experimental menu is being sourced from various local farms and markets.

“We are excited to be working with the Kohala Elementary, Middle, and High schools in bringing more local home-style cooked meals into the cafeteria,” said Christian.

Photo courtesy Office of the Lt. Governor
Photo courtesy Office of the Lt. Governor

The goal of the initiative is to positively influence the relationship students have with their food and the aina by increasing breakfast and lunch participation, boosting the purchase of locally grown food for school meals, and cultivating connections between our schools and local agricultural communities.

This pilot program tests localized purchasing and seeks to change the way food is purchased, prepared and delivered.

The next phase of the project will begin next school year in a larger school complex area on Maui.

Across the nation, farm-to-school programs are reconnecting students to a better understanding of the food system and where their food comes from. The programs introduce students to healthier eating habits and help them become familiar with new vegetables and fruits that they and their families will then be more willing to incorporate into their own diets.

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