Changing the Look of School Lunch One Tray at a Time

For students at Concord Community Schools, lunch looks very different.

We often think of school lunch as cardboard pizza and grey green beans, but for students at Concord Community Schools, lunch looks very different. Over the past year, students have enjoyed fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables as part of their school lunch. In the fall of 2008, Food Service Director Alan Breneman began a Farm to School program in the school district and started sourcing produce from area farmers. Mr. Breneman became connected to local farmers through a partnership with Food System Economic Partnership, a non-profit in southeast Michigan that works to link farmers with consumers.

As the 2009 school year begins to take shape, Mr. Breneman has expanded the district’s Farm to School program to include greater variety and more frequent offerings of local produce. Through the program, students learn who their farmers are and where they can buy fresh fruits and vegetables to eat at home. They are reminded to think locally through banners and signs hanging in the cafeteria and later this week they will learn how to prepare these fresh local ingredients.

Later this week, Chef Brian Renz from Taher, a professional food management company, will visit Concord Schools and teach students how to prepare dishes such as Orange Chicken Stir-fry, Chili Cheese Relenos, Pork Taco Al Pastor or Chipotle Pepper Potatoes using ingredients from Kyrst Farms of Concord and Fusilier Family Farms of Manchester. Chef Renz’s visit comes at a time when awareness of school lunch and the foods our students eat is increasing.

At the end of the month, the Child Nutrition Act expires and several groups are calling for the reauthorization of this act to focus on funding farm to school programs. Farm to School programs are good for the local economy as money spent on food purchases remain in the community, allowing for economic development and job creation.

According to the National Farm to School Network “for every dollar spent on local foods in schools, one to three dollars circulate in the local economy.” For Michigan, that’s great news! As the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, our children have the opportunity to eat fresh, delicious, nutritious fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously helping boost the economy.

To learn more about Farm to School in southeast Michigan and how you can get involved visit

schools or contact Michaelle Rehmann, FSEP Farm to Food Service Program

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