WATAUGA – A partnership with local restaurants aims to bring fresh food to the children of Two Rivers Community School.
“This is not your typical school lunch,” said Natalie Oransky, principal of the Two Rivers Community School.
On Friday, November 19, students and staff gathered around picnic tables and inside classrooms for a one-hour lunch break prepared by Stickboy Bread Co. On the menu: Rowdy Rooster – House Chicken, Lettuce & Tomato Salad on Stick Boy Country Multigrain Sourdough. For a vegetarian option, a house salad with a side of hummus and vegetables for dipping.
Stickboy, a small family-owned bakery in Boone, began making lunch at Two Rivers in 2020, after the school received a grant through the NC Access Program. The grant, intended to make charter schools more accessible to marginalized groups, said Oransky, requires grantees to start a lunch program.
Without a proper kitchen and cafeteria, the staff at Two Rivers had to get creative. They came up with a plan that involved working with local food vendors on a weekly catered lunch program. The decision to join FARM Café was easy, according to Oransky.
“A lot of my most vivid memories are related to food, from family traditions to new travel experiences abroad,” said Ross Aglialoro, FARM Café’s production coordinator.
Aglialoro oversees the lunch program menu on Tuesdays and Thursdays, using local ingredients to elevate the foods found in public school canteens across America – grilled cheese, ants on a log, and Lunchables.
His turn on pigs in a blanket incorporated ingredients from two local farms. Butternut squash from Moretz’s Orchard and Farms mixed with cookie dough, which coated pork sausage from Daffodil Spring Farms. It was a big hit with the students of Two Rivers. The meal stuck on eighth-grade Sydney Smith’s mind as she thought back to the meals prepared so far in the program.
“It’s like a really formative stage in their life, so trying to introduce them to things that some of them might have tried – I don’t know how adventurous their parents are – but some of these kids don’t. may not have had ingredients like this. Said Aglialoro.
Since the NC Access Grant does not fund the lunch program, Two Rivers attaches a supplement to each meal. Thanks to the supplement, some of the 50 to 60 students participating in the program are entitled to meals at a free or reduced price.
“I think everyone is really excited,” Oransky said. “It becomes difficult to prepare your lunch every day for your child. Even for me as an employee every day you cook breakfast in the morning and miss what you eat and have so much to do. I think it made things a lot easier for our families.
Kelly Lynn, a social studies and language arts teacher at Two Rivers, enjoyed a BLT on Stickboy Bread Co sourdough with fries and hummus on November 19. She considers buying local food a priority and is “special” about what her son, a fifth grader at Two Rivers, eats as well.
“I went to public school, I remember,” she said. “Square pizza, fries and corn with everything. As a mom, it feels good to know where the food comes from.
Meals, delivered three days a week by Stickboy and two days a week by FARM Café, often contain all-natural and local ingredients. In fact, partnering with local producers has been part of FARM Café’s mission since 2012. For Aglialoro, the lunch program is a way to extend their mission beyond the walls of the café.
“My hope when sharing food with others is to create memories and joy through the power of turning ingredients into creative and tasty dishes,” Aglialoro said.