For National School Lunch Week, Colonial Middle School (CMS) celebrated PA Preferred Day by offering regionally produced foods and ingredients.
"We're supporting our local farmers, instead of going out of the state or out of the country," said Paula Jordan, Head Cook at CMS.
The menu included drumsticks from chickens raised in New Holland, items made with flour milled in Hatfield, locally grown produce, and milk from Lancaster. But nothing could beat how local the fresh basil was on the Margherita pizza — it was grown in the school's aquaponics system in the front light court.
"The basil is fresh and organic, and we're getting it right away, so it's not being processed," said Sophie Morgounova, a CMS eighth grader. "They don't normally have vegetables on pizza. It was refreshing."
"I think the pizza's pretty good," agreed eighth grader Jade Zhang Wong.
To encourage students to try the foods for PA Preferred Day, Mrs. Jordan made the items a little different from the usual fare, including changing a pasta salad to a chopped pepper and tomato salad and trying a different recipe on the chicken drumsticks.
"I just wanted to try something new. The chicken was good," said eighth grader Kharee Davis, who was also enjoying a fresh peach. "It's good to eat local, because it's more healthy."
While PA Preferred Day highlighted Pennsylvania ingredients, Colonial School District's Food Services doesn't depend on a special day to have students eat local. All seven cafeterias offer all-you-can-eat fresh local produce daily, and the department often requires Pennsylvania products on their bids.
"It's exciting to celebrate PA Preferred Day, because it's important to support local farmers and help sustainability efforts in our area," said Food Services Director Lori McCoy. "It's also important for our kids to know where their food comes from."
National School Lunch Week was created in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to celebrate the benefits of the National School Lunch Program.