On Tuesday evening, August 13, lively groups of parents, students, young children and grandparents streamed through the cafeteria doors of Wilbanks Middle School. It was Open House, and while most were looking for 6th grade registration, many stopped by to taste 7 scrumptious dishes prepared by the WMS cafeteria staff. After tasting, 82 people took the time to vote on their favorite dishes.
The taste test was a fun and exciting way to introduce students and parents to WMS’s Farm to School program. Farm to School got its start during the second half of the last school year, and will be in full swing during the 2013-2014 school year. Farm to School is a multi-pronged (like a fork) program, introducing students and the cafeteria program to fresh, locally grown produce; it is integrated in the classroom by teachers that can use food and agriculture in their lesson plans; it supports local growers and producers.
Assisting with the taste test were the Farm to School Ambassadors, students who are proponents of great food. The Ambassadors served food, distributed ballots and gave “I Tried It” stickers to those who tasted and voted on their favorite foods. Four eighth graders, Cade, Laura, Brittany and Karol, and three seventh graders, James, Kobi and Miriam, added great life and excitement to the taste test.
Here are the results of the voting…
1. The most popular dish at the Open House was the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. The crisp was a sweet, fruity mix of strawberries and rhubarb baked with a crispy, oat topping. Mm.
2. The Chinese Chicken Salad was the second most popular offering. Chopped, fresh cabbage, cooked chicken pieces, Ramin noodles, almonds and scallions were tossed in a dressing of vinegar, oil and sugar and seasonings to create a crispy, tasty treat.
3. & 4. The Greek Potatoes and the Sweet Potato Biscuits were only one vote apart. The Greek Potatoes were very satisfying, potato wedges roasted with seasonings and oil and tossed with feta cheese. The Sweet Potato Biscuits were cute little – almost bite-sized – lightly sweet yellow biscuits. Yum.
5. The Ratatouille Bake was the next most popular item. It was a savory, hardy main dish combination of cheese ravioli and an array of summer vegetables such as yellow and zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes.
6. The Maple Glazed Beets were almost the least popular dish; however, many Ambassadors seemed to be prejudiced against, them, so the unfortunate beets may not have been well presented. The beets had a tasty, earthy flavor with a note of sweetness from the maple syrup in which they were roasted.
7. Last but not least was the Butternut Squash Soup. The soup was at a disadvantage in that it was not on the ballot, so it only received write-in votes. The creamy soup was slightly spicy with flavors of cinnamon, ginger and garlic.