January Farm Fresh Food Days featured locally grown Winter Squash from J&T Todosciuk Farms at all six Dexter schools. Students were invited to try samples of roasted Acorn and Sweet Dumpling squash, explore the many varieties of winter squash that grow in Michigan, and voice their opinion about the squash they tried.
Some tried it roasted with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and others tried it with olive oil and a dusting of garlic powder and salt. For many students (between 1/3 and 1/2, in a very non-scientific estimate) this was the first time they had ever tried winter squash! Considering this level of exposure, it was not shocking that students were less enthusiastic about this food as compared to how they felt about foods featured in some of the previous Farm Fresh Food Days. Students at all schools except the K-2 schools filled out a survey rating the appearance, flavor, and texture of the squash, and let us know what they thought about adding winter squash to the school lunch more often. To answer the question “Would you like to eat winter squash for school lunch?” students were able to answer “Yes”, “Yes, if. . .” and fill in their suggestions or preferences, or “No”. This allowed for students to give their insight on recipes they’d like to see on the lunch line. Students’ suggestions included:
Yes, I would like winter squash on school lunch if. . .
- it was peeled
- it had parmesan
- it was a soup
- it was served with pasta
- it was deep fried in bacon fat!
- it was served sweeter or with brown sugar
At Cornerstone, students votes were – Thumbs Up: 107; Thumbs Down: 65
At Bates, where students represent to same K-2 grade levels, the numbers were strangely reversed: Thumbs Up: 51; Thumbs Down: 109
Here’s what the students at the 4 upper grade-level schools thought about having the winter squash they tasted on school lunch:
Students at Wylie and Creekside were more excited to try to samples, so we had significantly more students try the squash at Wylie and Creekside. At Mill Creek and DHS, fewer students tried the samples, but the students who tried the squash had more positive reactions to it. Take a look at the results from each school . . .
On several occasions, students at DHS gave verbal feedback that the winter squash would be a welcome vegetarian option for the school cafeteria. And at some of the younger schools, the students who enjoyed the squash, REALLY enjoyed it and enthusiastically voiced that opinion. As the next lunch period entered the cafeteria, one student at Wylie made sure to tell us, with an authoritative stomp of her foot, that “Anyone who says this squash isn’t good is CRAZY!”
Winter in Michigan means that fresh veggies and fruits are hard to come by from local farmers. But that doesn’t mean that our students can’t sample the agricultural bounty of our state! In the next few months, we’ll be featuring WHOLE GRAINS from Michigan farmers! Keep an eye out for next month’s featured item soon.
THANKS to all of our volunteers and once again to Dexter Food and Nutrition!