Public school students have a special item on their lunch menu this month.
The Hawaii Department of Education is including locally grown beef as part of an effort to incorporate more fresh local agriculture in student meals.
At Kalani High School Friday, students, teachers, and faculty enjoyed a teri loco moco lunch using a paniolo beef patty recipe. Elementary and middle school students ate hamburger steak.
“I think that it’s really good that we’re starting to bring in more local agriculture and food products into schools because it supports local companies and Hawaii’s economy,” said Kalani High senior Ryder Tanaka. “It’s also really important that we know where our food is coming from so we can make the right decisions about our diet.”
“It does come down to student taste. Students, as far as processed foods, kids move beyond that,” said Albert Scales, school food program administrator for the Department of Education. “Kids nowadays have the Yelp app and things like that as well, so we’re growing with the trends, and we’re trying to grow utilizing more local products.”
In January 2018, the DOE will incorporate local fresh bananas in school lunches.
Scales says the goal is to increase local produce from 20 to 40 percent statewide.
“We want to encourage our students to eat more fresh, healthy, local foods when possible, as well as introduce them to new foods that they may not have eaten before,” he said.