Kentucky Proud

Farm to School

farm to school

Farm to School

We at KDA are committed to our farmers and our communities. Our goal is to bring high quality and fresh KY Proud products to our school systems. Commissioner Comer is dedicated to the youth of Kentucky and feels by supporting the Farm to School program it will allow kids to grow into healthier adults who are educated about local food production and who demand local products.

Enter Junior Chef site

Top prep kitchen stars will go to the (place) mat at the first Farm to School Junior Chef cook off

The new state high school competition doesn't involve balls and nets, but pots and pans. The players won't be shooting three-pointers or running for the goal line, but they'll be chopping and dicing their way to glory.

The first Kentucky Farm to School Junior Chef Cook Off will take place Aug. 15-23 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville during the Kentucky State Fair. Fifteen teams survived district and regional competition earlier this year to compete for the Junior Chef title on the Gourmet Garden Stage in the lobby of South Wing A.

"The Junior Chef competition has received a very enthusiastic response in its first year," Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. "It has enabled young people throughout Kentucky to learn basic cooking skills and understand the importance of buying local. Perhaps best of all, Sullivan University, our key partner in this endeavor, has very generously offered scholarships to members of the top teams. I encourage everyone to watch these teams in action at the state fair."

Teams from Bardstown Thomas Nelson, Barren County, Boyle County, Breathitt County, Conner, Fern Creek, Fort Campbell, Madison Southern, Mayfield, Menifee County, Montgomery County, Oldham County, Pikeville, Portland Christian, and Whitley County earned the right to compete for Kentucky Junior Chef champion.

"This is more than just a competition; the students are learning skills such as recipe development, food handling, and food safety," said Junior Chef Cook Off organizer Tina Garland, coordinator of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Program. "The competition provides the opportunity for the youth of Kentucky to make healthy choices and increase consumption of local fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets."

Sullivan University will offer $70,000 worth of scholarships to members of the top four teams. Sullivan will present a $6,000 scholarship to each member of the winning team, a $4,000 scholarship to each member of the second-place team, and a $2,000 scholarship to each member of the two third-place teams. John Wiley & Sons publishing company will give $600 to the winning team and provide books to any student on the winning team who enters a college culinary program where John Wiley books are sold.

Garland said the winning team also will receive a special secret prize, which will be revealed when Commissioner Comer presents awards to the top four teams after the final cook off on Aug. 23.

The Junior Chef competition is part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's Farm to School Program. Junior Chef encourages high school students to learn how to cook by using local ingredients to prepare healthy meals while at the same time teaching students about agriculture, marketing, organization, teamwork, and community involvement.

The Department's Farm to School Program connects local farmers to school districts to make fresh Kentucky Proud foods available to Kentucky children. Participating Kentucky school districts spent an estimated $468,000 on local foods during the 2012-2013 school year. A total of 84 school districts are members of the Kentucky Proud program, which helps Kentucky farmers market their products to their local communities.

Click here for a bracket of the state Junior Chef Cook Off.

Success Stories

Read Farm to School Success Stories
Madison County

Each month the "Farm to School" task force will feature a Madison County farm in the school news. This month's featured farm is "Cooper Farms", a 93 acre farm, owned and operated by Chris & Patty Cooper for the last 15 years. With the help of their 4 sons: Blake, Chase, Logan, & Austin, they raise beef cattle, chickens (for the eggs), and hay. The latest premium product they raise is lettuce. The Coopers grow hydroponic lettuce. Hydroponic is a method of growing plants using water without soil. They are raising three types of lettuce in a greenhouse: Butterhead Bib, Romaine Leaf, and Red & Green Oak Leaf lettuces. Someone needs to transplant and reseed once every week.

The Coopers have taken lettuce to 15 different Madison County schools since the start of school this year! The Coopers sell their lettuce at the Madison County Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8-12am; they also sell to local groceries and restaurants. Many foods travel an average of 1500 miles to get to the schools or groceries in our community. Fresh local grown foods are much tastier and have more nutrition. Lettuce can be a good source of fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. Try using lettuce in salads, sandwiches, hamburger, tacos, and other foods. In Chinese foods, the stem is used just as much as the leaf. Let's support our farmers by eating fresh healthy foods grown in Kentucky! Special thanks to Cooper Farms.

Written by Lisa Wheat, RD, LD
Madison County Health Department.

Fayette County
Courtesy of
Adventurous students at Lansdowne Elementary who sampled sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon got an animal sticker in return for trying a new food. The taste test was the first district-sponsored activity under the national Farm to School network, which Fayette County Public Schools is piloting at Lansdowne. Other possible avenues are school gardens, composting programs and farm tours ? all of which help youngsters understand where their food comes from and how their choices affect their health, environment and community.

The aim is to improve students' diets with fresh, appetizing foods picked at the peak of their flavor and to reinforce classroom lessons with tangible examples in the cafeteria. "We're just trying to get the kids to connect the progression with how food gets from the farm to the table and that there's a person behind this. There is food grown locally ? it doesn't just magically appear," said Marty Flynn, the district's Child Nutrition program coordinator. She, colleague Diane Seale and two dietitians from the county health department visited Lansdowne on Wednesday to encourage the children to try a new food, handing out small cups of sweet potatoes as classes filled the cafeteria tables.

The reaction among some of the youngest? "It's really sweet!" and "It tasted like pie." FCPS is receiving broad community support for Farm to School. The steering committee also includes representatives from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, the University of Kentucky, the Fayette County Cooperative Extension, the Arboretum and the Lexington Farmers Market. As those resources filter down to the school level, teachers and students will benefit greatly. "With the Farm to School program, Lansdowne students are going to have a chance to connect their science curriculum (plant growth) and social studies curriculum (economics) to studies about healthy bodies," said first-grade teacher Jennifer Rodabaugh.

"In my classroom, we will be learning about how foods are grouped according to the nutrition pyramid and how the foods affect our bodies. We will also be working on making sure the students are aware of good food choices versus poor food choices. During lunchtime, we will begin to track how many healthy choices we are making daily. I hope this will raise nutritional awareness." Cafeteria manager Linda Stewart and her staff do their part, too. For instance, they displayed a basket of uncut sweet potatoes so the children could see the original produce. And in the spring, Lansdowne will kick off what Stewart called the "dot" program, which is all about putting a rainbow on every child's plate. Her staff will wear the colors of each food group to encourage students to ask questions about different choices.

"They'll be more informed on what it takes to make a balanced diet," Stewart said. Lansdowne was selected to pilot the Farm to School initiative in part because of such efforts. "Our excellent cafeteria staff does a great job of offering our students varied choices of fruits and vegetables. A point is made to ask the students not just what foods they want for lunch, but more specifically, what fruit or vegetable would you like to have," Rodabaugh said. "At Lansdowne we want our students to be the best that they can be, inside and out. Farm to School will just be another tool we will use to make that happen."

Boyle County
Hello Wyatt's,
Your lettuce was a hit! It not only looked and tasted good, we have had teachers especially comment and generate interest among themselves and with students. It has been one of the most positive things we have done this year. I am interested in continuing on with the product until the end of the school year. Now, that said, we have to work out a delivery schedule.

With the way my menus run, I use some weekly at the High School, Middle School level and every other week at the elementary level.

Also, please let me know when your tomatoes are ready. Thanks so much.

Judy Ellis, SNS
Food Service Director
Boyle County Schools

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