Plattsburgh school embraces farm-to-table menu options

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 3:52 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - A Plattsburgh school is making the switch from frozen to fresh, with the idea of saving money and making healthy and tastier meal options for students in the process.

“Just going back to the basics of just using your hands, prepping your meals and fresh ingredients,” said Plattsburgh High School Principal Daniel Valenzuela.

With the help of the nonprofit Adirondack Harvest – which helps the school source local foods -- veggies, fruit, dairy products, meat, and grains from the area are now being incorporated into the school menu.

“Saving close to $100,000. I didn’t even realize that. And so, to see that working for taxpayer dollars, it makes me feel good knowing that the money that’s coming in for our students and schools is being invested in that way,” Valenzuela said.

“We have a very special opportunity to feed students twice a day, that we try to make breakfast and lunch count as much as possible, give them as much local fresh real food as we can,” said Jocelyn Lopez, the school’s lunch manager. “Whole potatoes, peeling carrots -- we’re putting a lot of their talent and creativity into the meals.”

School officials say the students are excited about the fresher, tastier options now available to them and they’re happy to be able to provide them. “I think it’s important for kids to see the freshness, to see fresh fruits, to see the fresh veggie,” Valenzuela said, “not just grabbing prepackaged things.” He says they are also seeing an increasing percentage of students opting for school meals. “There’s a line through the door and I’m not used to seeing that.”

“They love the food. They love the program. We’re not getting a lot of negative kickback of like, ‘Where are the chicken nuggets and French fries?’” added Lopez. “We’ve purchased from a lot of local farms -- we support the farmers, they support us. We’re feeding kids. That’s what we’re here to do.”