“Kids nowadays just know a lot more about food,” he says. “They have such access to information that we didn’t have when we were younger, so they have higher expectations than we used to.”
Chef Kevin is working to exceed those expectations by elevating his district’s school lunch menu to the level of a college dining hall, with lots of healthy options, as well as items for those on alternative diets. And he’s sourcing many of his ingredients locally. In some cases, very locally.
FoodCorps service members are supporting his efforts through a local farm-to-school program, integrating the district’s 2.5-acre Drew Farm—located on the grounds of a vocational school—into the curriculum through field trips, hands-on lessons, and harvesting produce for meals. The FoodCorps team also runs taste tests that give students the chance to try new foods, and provides cafeteria leaders with direct feedback from students.
“What excites me most,” he says, “is the opportunity to introduce kids to foods that they might not have had otherwise. From an equity standpoint, I owe it to my students to ensure that the foods served accurately reflect the ethnic makeup of the district, and also to introduce them to as much of what the culinary world has to offer as I can.”