Thanks to a $29K grant from the Park Foundation, Tompkins Cortland Community College’s Coltivare center in downtown Ithaca provided top-notch culinary training to another round of food service workers in local school districts this summer.
For three days this summer, 40 people from seven Tompkins County school districts attended took part in a “boot camp” that taught them how they can serve fresher, healthier, and more appealing meals to schoolchildren.
Led by Coltivare Executive Chef Patrick Blackman, the training included hands-on workshops about food preparation with fresh ingredients and ways to improve recipes to get children to eat healthier.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County helped organize the event, which brought in 40 food service workers from Dryden, Groton, Ithaca, Lansing, Newfield, New Roots, and Trumansburg school districts.
It goes hand-in-hand with New York State’s Farm to School Program, which was created to connect schools with local farms and food producers to strengthen local agriculture, improve student health, and promote regional food systems awareness.
Coltivare Director of Operations Jason Sidle said the training is a natural outgrowth for the culinary center, which shares the College’s mission of meeting the educational needs of the community.
“We piloted this training with Groton last year, and the results were very positive,” said Sidle. “When Sue Kittel from the Park Foundation approached us about expanding this and offering it to all the school districts in Tompkins County, we were thrilled. This project really gets at the heart of so much of what we do at Coltivare – promoting the use of local, fresh ingredients and teaching how to prepare meals that people will want to eat.”