OK, maybe no one actually said that exact phrase at this week’s Got Kale? Kale Yes! event held at Houston ISD’s John H. Reagan HS . . . but surely they were thinking it.
Kale Day was a collaboration of effort by the HISD Aramark Nutrition Team, Reagan’s Ecology Club sponsored by Pre-AP biology teacher “Ms. V” along with the help (and persuasion) of Urban Harvest Youth Educator & garden volunteer, Irene Nava. The concept started with an abundance of kale that is growing in the school’s UHI Affiliate Garden. Staff and students who already liked kale appreciated the bold flavors of Tuscan Nero (aka “dinosaur kale”) and the tender salad qualities of Winterbor, a curly-leafed salad variety.
But how could the other 2000+ students and staff on Reagan’s campus be convinced to try some of this “super food?” Free samples, of course!
That’s where HISD Nutrition Education team came to the rescue. The department, that serves over 270,000 school meals a day, is now staffed by three registered dietitians and one soon to be registered when just a few years ago, HISD had none. They provided the ingredients and the manpower in the kitchen to chop, blend and produce samples of our “Kool Kale Salad” and a “Green Power”smoothie (loosely based on Chef Roy’s creamy concoction sold at our farmers markets).
“We were hoping to reach 10% of our population so we prepared enough for 200 samplings. In addition, the Reagan Eco Club made three flavors of kale chips for the students to try,” noted Ms. V. “The response was fantastic and overwhelmingly positive even though convincing them to take that first bite or sip was sometimes a challenge. Once they did, some were coming back for seconds or even thirds.”
By the end of two lunch periods, over 300 portions of both the salad and the smoothies were served, plus most of the kale chips. Many students also picked up the recipes . . . some even made a donation to take home a transplant or a bouquet of freshly harvested kale from a school garden.
What a difference a taste makes!
Hopefully, like the New Yorker who has become the Kale Crusader in Paris, the effects of the tasting event are just beginning. Perhaps some students will eat more greens this holiday season, or at least become less skeptical about trying a new food. Maybe we’ll even see kale on the HISD menu someday!
What’s next . . . “Got Kohlrabi?”