BEMIDJI – The Statewide Health Improvement Program hosted school food service training Aug. 14 at Bemidji High School.
The training, which drew 45 participants from 11 school districts, included demonstrations, hands-on skill building and discussions about farm-to-school programs and salad bar success.
SHIP has been partnering with schools in the region for the past three years to help increase healthy eating options in the school meal program and during the school day. Food service departments and staff have sought to bring new opportunities to the students, including school gardens where the students help plant, tend and harvest products for the school meal program; salad bars with fresh fruits and vegetables, and a farm-to-school program that will be held this fall with many schools in the area participating.
The overall goal is to build a local foods system in the region that will benefit residents and students through increased access to healthy local foods, as well as benefit the local economy by keeping money in the area.
“The training was very successful and received a lot of positive feedback,” said Josh Larson, North Country SHIP coordinator. “Food service in schools is a challenging program with time and funding limitations as well as ever-changing requirements and responsibilities. The staffs that work in the food service department are excited about the opportunity to offer more fresh local products, and as one foodservice worker stated: ‘Thank you for these sessions – they make these changes a lot easier.’”