Nestled in the Greek Orthodox Church on Seneca Street, you will find the unique New
Roots Farm to School Kitchen, run by Chef Allyn Rosenbaum. This program provides a healthy meal for the 90 students who eat school lunch at the New Roots Charter School. Chef Rosenbaum has a love for cooking and a passion for using whole foods and healthy ingredients. She has an extensive culinary background and brings years of experience and her joy of cooking to the table.
I was curious about this program and what is unique about it and decided to pay a visit. Rosenbaum noted her respect and admiration for what all of our schools are doing to
promote the nutrition and health of their students. What is especially unique about this program though, is that students are responsible for preparing the daily lunches. Upon walking in to the building, I immediately noticed a student cutting fresh carrots from a local farm, to a student preparing fresh chicken, and the aroma from fresh tomatoes, onions and herbs coming from a huge pot in the kitchen. While other schools often need to rely on processed foods, the New Roots program uses primarily unprocessed ingredients, cooks from scratch, and tries as much as possible to source locally. They get many as possible of their seasonal vegetables from the local Youth Farm and Woods Earth. While abiding by the National School Lunch Program standards, which now requires 50% or more of their grains to come from whole grains, it was clear that they go above and beyond the quality standards in these types of efforts they are making to ensure the students are well nourished. For example, instead of relying on portion sizes, they try to teach and encourage their students to eat appropriately sized portions.
The Farm to School cooking classes, totaling 13 “cafe class” students daily, ties in to the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Certification Program that is currently offered by the school. This program also offers concurrent enrollment with classes offered at TC3. While students learn critical cooking related skills from Chef Rosenbaum and Assistant Mark Thorton, they can also choose to go through this certificate program, which allow them to take various electives such as culinary arts, food shed studies and ecological design, and do internships and special projects.