Yesterday I had the privilege to participate in the Colorado Proud School Meal Day with Denver Public Schools (DPS). While the festivities celebrated the use of Colorado agriculture products in the DPS school meals, there were many other reasons to be excited for DPS. Specifically, McGlone Elementary School, where the celebration took place, displayed their new playground and garden facilities.
The newly renovated grounds include a playground, teaching greenhouse with room and materials for classes to come work, a garden to provide produce for the salad bar and an urban farm (over an acre) with seven plots complete with a drip water system. All of this is to help DPS teach their students about the local agriculture. However, there are other positive byproducts to the effort, including fresh free produce for the salad bars, beautiful landscape with less vandalization, productive use of space and more efficient use of water.
To add to the celebration, students harvested three types of cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and spinach. The cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes were cut by students and added to whole grain noodles and mixed with a sauce prepared by a local chef for all of our enjoyment. I have to admit that I am a lover of crisp garden cucumbers and I nearly inhaled the sample we were given.
The scrumptious meal of spaghetti, whole grain bread (made in the DPS kitchen) and Colorado produce were enjoyed while I spoke with several fourth grade students. Some students were encouraged to try the Colorado produce at the salad bar by the centerpiece baskets of produce and the Colorado maps displaying where the produce was from. They were so interested in learning where the various fruits and vegetables were from that they soon began to quiz each other. “Where are the peaches from? What about the eggs? How about the tomatoes?”
Colorado Proud School Meal Day brought nutritious food and education of Colorado agriculture to all of the students at McGlone Elementary. I look forward to seeing this movement grow and include more districts across Colorado.