EATS introduces new food philosophies to kids at school.
By Renee Huang
When Ann Bloomquist and scratch cooking was a way of life. “I made my own yogurts, breads, and mayonnaise. It was great and we ate wonderfully,” she recalls.
It wasn’t until they dropped anchor in Park City and her son wanted to eat school lunch, that Bloomquist started to question the food children were being served in the cafeteria.
In spring 2013, she and local chef Susan Odell approached the Park City School District with an idea to impact children’s eating habits through the school lunch program.
Thus the seeds for Eat Awesome Things at School (EATS) program were sowed. In just two years, the group has broken new ground in Park City with the blessings of the school district and the support of cafeteria lunch ladies.
“The hope is that someday we can send our kids to school knowing they are going to get quality, fresh food that you’d feed them at home,” says Bloomquist. The program is modeled after innovative programs in California, Vermont and Colorado.
EATS offers monthly taste tests of fresh, locally grown foods — often provided by local farmers — at Park City’s four elementary schools and Ecker Middle School. It also offers cooking classes at several after- school programs introducing kids to healthy, easy recipes made with fresh ingredients.
Ecker Hill teacher and mother Annie Wallace started a school community garden with the aid of EATS. “I believe it is important for students to understand the food choices they have, and to ask for better choices, especially in school,” says Wallace, enus in many of the schools, as well as fresh produce and when they do their taste testings in the school, students really do benefit from trying new things.”
At its heart, says Bloomquist, EATS is about more than just getting children to try new foods. It’s a paradigm shift that begins with educating youngsters about a holistic approach to healthy food: knowing where your food comes from, cooking it, and finally, eating and enjoying it.
EATS has galvanized community support surrounding this concept. Zoom Restaurant hosted a summer cooking class where the young culinary connoisseurs learned how to make piroshki, mini hand rolls with savory filling. In September, the local Whole Foods donated 5 percent of all sales to EATS. Vail Resorts chefs also sourced, cooked and donated roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts and asparagus to serve at EATS’ monthly taste tests.
For Vail Executive Chef Alex Malmborg, it was important to him as a chef and as a parent to support the notion that good food doesn’t have to be costly. “I feel that this piece is missing in the school systems.
They seem to only be concerned with the cost of the ingredients, and therefore use very cheap, low quality ingredients,” says Malmborg. “As a parent, I care about what my children eat, and am committed to trying to help make a change in school lunch programs. I am convinced that with a little more effort schools could find healthier options without spending much more money.”