New garden, salad bar bring fresh changes to Bataan School lunches

Apr 26, 2023 | Schools | 0 comments

(Left to right) Cook Connie Gilleland, OSU Extension SNAP-Ed Program Assistant Brenda Brahier, Cook Christy Brough and Port Clinton Schools Director of Food Services Pam Bacon celebrate the cafeteria’s new salad bar. (Photos by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

Kindergartener Hannah Palmer-Famolare looks at a celery stalk sprouting in water as Port Clinton Schools Director of Food Services Pam Bacon talks to students about hydroponics.

As kids poured into the Bataan Memorial Intermediate School cafeteria for breakfast on Wednesday, March 8, the same question was heard over and over: “What is that?”

“That” was a brand-new, bright red salad bar that will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to students in grades 3-5. The salad bar was purchased through a collaborative effort between Port Clinton Schools Director of Food Services Pam Bacon and OSU Extension SNAP-Ed Program Assistant Brenda Brahier.

Bacon and Brahier unveiled the salad bar to students as part of National School Breakfast Week.

“It’s to encourage kids to eat healthy vegetables and try new things,” Brahier said. “We thought a salad bar would be a way to introduce new vegetables to the intermediate level.”

The salad bar will be an extra choice at lunchtime.

“They’ll still go through the lunch line first, to make sure they get all the components of a meal. Then they’ll come to the salad bar,” Bacon said.

The salad bar was another way Bacon and Brahier have teamed up to create a healthy eating atmosphere at the schools. Last year, with an abundance of generous help, they fulfilled a longtime dream to plant a school garden.

“Brenda and I had been talking about having a garden at Bataan. It would be a great educational

experience for the kids and an opportunity for kids to eat fresh vegetables,” Bacon said.

COVID delayed their plans until last year, when their garden dream was made a reality with the help of Port Clinton High School senior Owen Auxter, who obtained grant money and built eight raised beds as his Eagle Scout project.

Students check out the newly unveiled salad bar in the Bataan cafeteria.

“Brenda also helped us get grant money,” Bacon said. “Brenda has been phenomenal.”

Once the garden was built, it was maintained with the volunteer assistance of Port Clinton High School Leadership Council, the school’s BEACON class, Amanda Spears’ class and Magruder Hospital staff members.

“Spears’ class monitored the garden and charted what we harvested,” Bacon said. “It was a great experience for them.”

Under all that care, the garden flourished.

Students were excited to have a visit from OSU Extension SNAP-Ed Program Assistant Brenda Brahier, right, on Wednesday, March, 8. Brahier and Port Clinton Schools Director of Food Services Pam Bacon, left, unveiled a new salad bar for students in grades 3 through 5.

“Last summer, we had so much, we froze a lot of it,” Bacon said. “We got a little creative with it, as well. We even froze tomatoes and used them in our chili.”

This year, Brahier helped the school obtain an additional $1,500 for the salad bar with a Policy, System and Environmental Change grant through SNAP. Bacon is already making preparations for this year’s garden that will provide fresh produce for the schools’ students.

“I would love to have a garden every year,” she said.

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