Boyne Falls Public Schools, a tiny school of 200 students, decided three years ago to hire a chef to run its kitchen. As a result, students are eating not only local produce, but also local meat. Chef Nate Bates, with funds from a grant, purchased a locally raised pig and smoked it for use throughout the year.
With only about $1 per meal to spend on food, Bates said the extra 10 cents* a meal helps him to do more of what he wants to do. Participation rates have risen since he transformed the kitchen, and adult purchases from staff have quadrupled. Those increased purchases also help his bottom line. And, just as important, is the role modeling staff provides for children, he said. “That is a teaching moment right there,” he said. “When the librarian is going through the line with the fourth graders, they look at her choices and they can talk.” That teaching is extending to families now, too. Sixty percent of the children at Boyne Falls Public School qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Bates and others in the school are holding a family crockpot cooking event in April. The school nurse will educate adults on nutrition and easy, healthy meals. An educator will teach kids basic kitchen safety. Bates will teach all how to make a one-pot meal. They will eat together, and then the families will go home with a crockpot, groceries, and recipes.
*Michigan’s 10 Cents A Meal for School Kids & Farms is a successful state pilot that provides schools with up to 10 cents a meal in match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Originally a $250,000 state pilot in prosperity regions 2 and 4, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder expanded 10 Cents A Meal for the 2017-2018 school year to also include prosperity region 9 with an increased budget of $375,000. The is one in a series of stories documenting 10 Cents A Meal for School Kids & Farms.