Sound School Students Grow Ingredient for School Lunch

September 16, 2009
Contact: Michelle Wade, (203) 946-8450
Cell (203) 675-5132
Sound School Students Grow Ingredient for School Lunch
Introducing Sound School Pesto Chicken
NEW HAVEN – This Thursday, students across the New Haven Public School District will be eating roasted chicken on the bone rubbed with homegrown Sound School Pesto and served with regionally grown mashed potatoes.
The Sound School and New Haven Public Schools Food Service Department collaborated on this menu item as New Haven continues its efforts to serve healthy, local food in the lunchrooms of New Haven Schools.  Chas Mavrelion, a teacher at Sound School and his students grew and harvested basil, cilantro and parsley this summer at Lockwood Farm in Hamden. They delivered fifteen heaping bags full of herbs to the Food Service Department where members of Local 217 cleaned and processed the herbs into pesto which will be served Thursday to the district.
“We have increased our commitment this year to working with local and regional farms.  Working with the students of The Sound School is rewarding for us because we see the dedication of the students creating a wonderful product. It is also rewarding to the students to not only see their product on the menu but also to enjoy it with their peers”, says Chef Timothy Cipriano, Executive Director of Food Services.
This is just the latest example of how New Haven is reinventing school food.  Soda, fried foods and unhealthy snacks were removed from schools years ago. Real chicken on the bone was introduced last year. As were sweet potato fries and mashed potatoes made from potatoes, not flakes. 
While tending a garden can be very rewarding and relaxing for some, New Haven schools are using them as learning environments.  Working gardens currently exist at Barnard Environmental Magnet School and Edgewood Magnet School with other schools working plots at local farms.  Local organizations like Common Ground and City Seed support these school based efforts with education and training services.  The Yale Sustainable Food Project is partnering with New Haven Public Schools to design and manage a 2,000 square foot garden as part of the new Hill Central School construction project scheduled to be completed summer 2011.
District officials are also looking at other school-run, sustainable farm models around the country, such as the Great Kids Farm in Baltimore, as they continue to focus on healthy, local food options for the students.
Non-traditional “gardening” is also happening in the district.  The Sound School is working with the hydroponic technique of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions without soil.  They are growing things such as peas, squash, Swiss chard and edible flowers.
The district views these efforts as important and complimentary to other initiatives in developing healthy, well-rounded, successful learners. “Showing our students where their food comes from helps open their eyes to the broader world around them”, notes Dr. Mayo, Superintendent of Schools.  “Working in a garden or being exposed to a new food item at lunch will help them see more options and, hopefully, make smarter eating choices”.