Grayson County Schools has been selected as one of only eight districts statewide to receive face-to-face instruction from a professional chef to help serve fresh local foods to their students.
The initiative is through two pilot projects led by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program in partnership with the Community Farm Alliance and the National Farm to School Network.
Chef Chris Byrd will be in the district Monday through Thursday during the entire month of March. Byrd is a graduate of Sullivan University and has formerly worked as a chef in the prison system.
A variety of programs for all schools are already taking shape.
Food Services Director Kristy Hodges noted that the timing of Byrd’s visit “will go perfectly with National Nutrition Month.”
Under the Chefs in Schools Collaborative, chefs will educate school food service personnel about incorporating fresh local foods in their menus, knife skills and proper handling of fresh local foods, taste testing with students, introducing local farmers to students to help them understand where their food comes from, recipe and menu development, and supporting local growers as part of rural economic development.
“School food service workers want to serve healthy, delicious meals to Kentucky children, and these projects will help them do that,” Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles said. “These investments will help the next generation of Kentuckians grow up healthy and strong, and they also will teach them to value farmers and local food systems as a way of life.”
The National Farm to School Network will use funding from Seed Change, an 18-month, $1.5 million project funded by The Walmart Foundation, to support the Chefs in Schools Collaborative. Districts in addition to Grayson County include Boyle, Clark, and Oldham counties. Kentucky was one of three states—along with Louisiana and Pennsylvania—that were awarded grants from Seed Change.
The Community Farm Alliance will use $15,000 from the Central Appalachian Network to conduct the Chefs in Schools Collaborative in Harlan, Martin, Morgan, and Pike counties. The Central Appalachian Network funding was part of a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, Rural Community Development Initiative.