Bear Creek K-8 celebrated Colorado Proud Day on Sept. 18 with a meal entirely from Colorado farms and some very special visitors.
Colorado Proud Day is a project by Jeffco schools that serves all students in the county healthy, Colorado grown food.
Lesley Dahlkemper, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, Cindy Stevenson, superintendent of Jeffco schools, John Salazar, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture and representatives from Slow Food and the PEW Charitable Trusts (partners in making the day happen) were all on hand at the school to have lunch with students and talk about natural food.
“This has been a big effort for Jeffco. If the biggest school district in the state can do it, than anyone can,” said Jeffco’s Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Linda Stoll. “We really wanted to focus at least one day where all the food students are eating comes from our state.”
Students were served coleslaw made from Greeley cabbage and carrots, sweet potato rolls from Harvest Moon Baking Company in Denver, Rocky Ford cantaloupe and scratch-cooked fresh local chicken drumsticks. The drumsticks were from Boulder Natural Meats, are from birds raised without antibiotics on family farms in Elizabeth and La Salle.
All the vegetables in the school’s salad bar also from Colorado growers, as well as the school’s community garden.
Jeffco’s executive chef, Yuri Sanow said that when he was decided what cafeterias county-wide should prepare he wanted to do something kid friendly as well as something that would show off the quality of the food.
“We wanted to showcase the quality of the food by not doing too much to it,” he said. “We feel really strongly that this is a great product, and when you get that, you don’t need to do much to it.”
As students filled up the cafeteria and started eating, Dahlkemper, Stevenson and Salazar all moved from table to table, speaking with the students to see how they liked the food.
“This is one of our greatest programs to get kids to eat healthy. Colorado Proud started in 1996 with 150 members, and now has over 2,000,” Salazar said. “We really want to try to educate kids on how to eat healthy, and understand where the food they eat comes from.”
While the produce season is coming to a close, the county has partnered with Boulder Natural Meats, and its chickens will appear on the menu once a month for students. Stoll said this is great for students, since their chickens are raised without any antibiotics.
Organizers said there was a lot of excitement that a district as big as Jeffco is making this kind of local eating happen (Jeffco is the second largest district in the country participating in a program like this) and the precedent it sets.
“It’s great to see businesses and schools with a social conscious make this happen,” said Gail Hansen, with PEW Charitable Trusts. “We know this kind of thing can be done on a large scale, and we just need to figure out the best way to make it happen.”