High Desert Montessori School Lunch Program Goes Local and Organic

High Desert Montessori School Principal Tammie Stockton was in grade school in the 1980's. She remembers what school-provided lunches, used to be like: "I remember floppy pizzas. I remember frozen food and very processed food in our school lunch programs." It was processed food heaven back then. Who else remembers the no-name hot dogs and hamburger patties and the white bread and a jiggly square of Jell-O?

But these days, schools are going more local. This one is even going organic. Chris Taylor of Farm Fresh Catering, which will supply the food to the school, told us they’re be delivering and preparing “Organic food. That’s grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides...all of the fertilizers are organic-certified, which means they're not made from petroleum based products."

HDMSschoolgardenIt's only fitting the school lunch revolution begins there, at one of the few schools with its own greenhouses. Chris says his parents were Vermont hippies. Tammie comes from a family of ranchers and farmers. And if they have their way, those old jokes about school lunches, won't fit at High Desert Montessori. Chris plans "Organic chicken, wild-caught Mahi-Mahi, all of the greens, all of the vegetables are going to be organic. We're serving organic fresh fruit." Not only are organic tomatoes, spinach, chard and kale, like they're growing in the school greenhouse infinitely healthier…the rest of their food will be too. Chris said “It’s great to work with local vendors, and be able to have locally grown organic food."

Plus the old food business model of processed, outsourced food is being turned around. The old cheaper way of doing things is less cheap these days, and organic is more cost-effective as more of it is being grown and produced. But the biggest perk are the health benefits for the kids. Fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense local food. Chris wants it here for personal reasons. His daughter goes to school at High Desert Montessori, "So its a win-win situation for me." But the challenge is…the kids *have* to like it for any well-meaning dish to work. Chris says they will: "I don't think it’s going to take much to get our students to like our lunch program, I think once they taste what is placed in front of them."

Although one missing favorite may take some getting used to. As Chris told us, "No desserts. No cookies. I just think sweets are something we just need to take off the plate."