Side dishes of white, red and purple mashed potatoes that looked more like dishes of ice cream recently were served during lunch in Newark Central School District’s five schools.
The unusual potato offerings were the first roll-out of Wayne Wednesdays, an initiative that brings Wayne County produce to the lunch lines in the county’s 11 school districts on the last Wednesdays of the month.
Wayne Wednesdays were created by a team of school food service directors in Wayne County, including Warren Bushart, food service director for NSCD, Marion CSD, Palmyra-Macedon CSD and Wayne Education Center. Bushart is a member of Gathering Regional Offerings in Wayne, a coalition that includes Wayne County schools, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Headwater Food Hub.
While GROW’s previous projects included farm-to-school education and special menu items at schools in October 2017, Wayne Wednesdays will benefit schools and local farmers by making locally grown foods part of the cafeteria menu.
Headwater Food Hub, based in Ontario, works to connect farmers to local restaurants, schools and the general public. Visit headwaterfoodhub.com for information.
Wayne County schools are using their collective buying power and Headwater’s groundwork with local growers to spend more of their food budget money in the county. Bushart said an advantage of Wayne Wednesdays is students will learn that some of the foods they eat at school are grown not far from where they live.
The red, white and purple potatoes from Williams Farms in Marion became ranch smashed potatoes at NHS. Bushart said the purple potatoes couldn’t be combined with the red and white ones, because the color would not be aesthetically pleasing.
NHS students were asked about the potatoes during the first lunch period. They deemed the smashed potatoes “pleasing to the palate,” describing them as “good” and “awesome.”
Wayne Wednesdays will continue with diced carrots on Feb. 28, cubed butternut squash on March 28, cooked dry beans on April 25 and kale on May 23.
GROW will share information about the selected produce and the farm it comes from each month for the rest of the school year. Bushart said posters about Wayne Wednesdays will appear in Newark schools, and information about the program will be sent home to parents.
GROW is encouraging parents to share how they support locally grown food on Facebook, @waynewednesdays, or by tweeting #waynewednesdays with photos of their experiences.