ETHS students broaden their healthful-food horizons
Debbie Mohicha, academics support program assistant, serves freshman Sydney Logan, 14, a sample of baked-apple compote during a lunch period at Evanston Township High School on Oct. 4. | Michael Jarecki~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2012 2:26PM
EVANSTON — For the week, at least, students were challenged to expand their culinary choices beyond bagels, pizza and chicken.
Rather, Kim Minestra, director of nutrition services at Evanston Township High School, and Emily Conti, assistant director, were doing their best to interest students in sample-size offerings of pumpkin soufflé, roasted potato cubes and baked-apple compote.
Melissa Burkhart, a senior, was intrigued enough to try a sampling of roasted carrots in barbecue sauce, served up by Betty Alper, an ETHS graduate, and one of the volunteer chefs.
“When I first heard it, I was like, ‘That sounds really gross,’ ” she said. “And it wasn’t.”
Minestra along with volunteers have been rolling out different dishes all week, as part of the third-annual Move and Crunch Challenge at the high school, 1600 Dodge.
The challenge is envisioned as a fun, interactive event to encourage healthy eating and physical activity among high-school students, she said.
During the week she and her staff featured a vegetable of the day, which students would ideally learn about and were encouraged to make part of their lunch, she said.
Overall the idea is to nudge students to think about where their food comes from, and shows them “there is life beyond pizza,” said Minestra, who was already inquiring about the recipe for the carrot dish, possibly adding it to a future ETHS menu.
Along with the healthy eating, officials incorporated a lesson in energy conservation and economics, featuring products bought at local farms.
Evanston-based Farm Logix worked with local farmers, featuring their produce on the menu.
Linda Mallers, managing partner of the firm, covers a 250-mile area, donating technology to farmers in exchange for marketing their products to local farmers markets and schools.
“So it introduces a brand-new market to them,” she said.
Mallers was one of the volunteers at Move and Crunch, putting together some of the locally grown produce in some of the dishes students were snapping up samples of.
Freshman Nathan Easington tried the apple compote. The apples in the recipe came from Brightonwood Orchards in Burlington, Wis.,, one of the farms in Maller’s network.
The farmer there is a retired doctor who grows more than 200 varieties of apples.
Easington enthusiastically approved.
The day before, he had farm-raised chicken with zucchini, Wednesday’s featured vegetable.
Like many students, Easington said he tries to eat healthy “but it can be tough.”
Alper, an ETHS graduate, whose Bot Bakery in Chicago serves gluten-free, locally sourced vegan products, scored a big hit with her carrots in barbecue sauce.
“It really tasted good,” said Alex Segales, a junior. “It surprised me.”