It’s not every day that people actually go out of their way to eat lunch in a school cafeteria. But last Wednesday (Feb. 3), parents and community members joined all the students in the Methow Valley School District for a special meal of local foods to celebrate Winter Taste Washington Day.
Many of the ingredients — including squash, carrots and garlic — were grown by the students themselves at Classroom in Bloom, the school’s garden. Beets, emmer and potatoes were also grown in the Methow Valley. The rest — including apples and green garbanzo beans — came from other Washington farms.
Head cook Laura Wottlin made a favorite soup from winter squash, carrots and sweet corn. Kids chose from several salads — one with emmer, tomatoes and feta cheese; a green salad with beets; and a potato salad.
As always, Wottlin’s homemade whole-wheat rolls were on offer, as was a deli option with meat and cheese, and chili.
Wottlin said most kids chose the chili, but many — particularly at the high school — really liked the squash soup, she said.
Some kids said the food was really tasty, or “really different, in a good way.” Others said they preferred the more usual offerings. But kids are usually enthusiastic about foods they have grown and harvested themselves, said Wottlin, who recalled a success with pea vines last spring.
“We don’t have to hide the food anymore,” said Wottlin, recalling the days when they would incorporate puréed squash in bread dough.
Classroom in Bloom plans another local lunch day in the spring.