Posted by Ted Hall
Believe it or not, Thursdays are LMR Grass-fed Beef Burger Days in all of the local public schools, including the high school. We are very proud.
This past Thursday Laddie and I were invited to help cook the burgers for the students at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in St. Helena. I had a blast. I put on my white LMR chef's coat and took my place at the grill in the school courtyard.
For the past year or so we have been talking with Allan Gordon, the Superintendent of St. Helena School District, about how to bring fresh, local food into the regular menu planning cycle for the school breakfast and lunch programs.
Enter Kay Wilson, the Health and Safety Officer, who took the intiative to start the process of changing the lunch program. Lydia Damian from our team worked with Kay to coach the program's administrators about the importance of planning menus in tune with the seasons.
Starting with produce availability - as opposed to designing a menu and then placing an order - was (and remains) a very new concept. For longstanding food service providers, it is kind of like turning around the telescope and looking through the other end.
We also helped educate about the very significant difference in quality of grass-fed beef from a specialty producer as opposed to commodity ground beef bought primarily on the basis of price.
So, burgers were an easy place to start because the beef is frozen and the quality is apparent as soon as you do a side-by-side comparison.
Burger Day is made even more special for the elementary and middle school kids because the schools do not have a full kitchen. Meals are usually prepared elsewhere and then delivered to the schools. So, setting up a grill in the courtyard and freshly cooking the burgers is a special treat.
It was very clear that Burger Day is a very big hit with students (and parents). Laddie and I loved the kids' enthusiasm. Watching them line up to get their meal and then load up with condiments was a wonderful sight to us.
I felt a special pride because I knew first hand the steps that were involved - from cow to calf to pasture finishing to slaughter to packaging to, now, cooking. Wow!
We are just beginning to see what can really happen.
We look forward to developing a produce production planning calendar and working next school year with Kay and the team as they introduce other fresh, locally produced foods into the menus.
Posted by Ted Hall