Mililani incorporates more local ingredients in school lunches

Mililani High School debuted new menu items as part of the state’s Aina Pono Farm to School program.

The school is working with a Chicago-based company called Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners to incorporate more locally grown food in student meals.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, students were served teriburgers, local banana and papaya, roasted carrots, edamame, and broccoli.

“We’re talking about new ways of doing things, so that’s an incredible shift when it comes to not preparing things one and two days out, but same day, making sure we’re not opening cans as much, but we’re chopping, trying to select and queue up fresh vegetables and have it ready for the day you want it to be ready. That’s a huge challenge,” said Mililani High School principal Fred Murphy.

“We won’t be drastically changing the menu overnight,” said Greg Christian, Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners president and founder. “We have steps in place to observe, test and seek feedback from the cafeteria staff as well as students. They’ll be sampling different dishes and helping to shape how the program is implemented at their schools.”

Mililani High is the second largest food production site in the Hawaii State Department of Education. It provides about 2,500 school lunches daily for approximately 1,000 high school students and an additional 1,500 students at Mililani Uka Elementary and Mililani Waena Elementary.

“It’s not just our cafeteria employees that are doing things differently. It’s happening with our front office staff. We are repositioning some folks to help do some more paperwork in the cafeteria. Our custodial team… they are setting up a lot of our waste management systems, and we’re working with our custodial team in these first preliminary weeks to try to do measuring of our waste and try to coordinate some way of seeing our success over time by doing these random waste checks,” Murphy said.

Spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, the Farm to School Initiative started in 2015 in the Kohala Complex Area. Kohala High’s kitchen serves about 600 meals a day to its students, as well as Kohala Elementary and Kohala Intermediate schools.

“Kohala has seen an increase in meal participation and a decrease in total food cost while serving fresher, more locally sourced food,” said Dexter Kishida, Farm to School specialist. “Our goal is to create similar results in Mililani for our three Central Oahu schools.”

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