New 'farm-to-school' menu at Ocoee H.S.

- A new “farm-to-school” menu at Ocoee High School is getting students excited about eating healthy. 

There’s more than meets the eye as students sit down for lunch in their new state-of-the-art cafeteria. 

“The kids are referring to it as their student union, so that’s when we know they really enjoy hanging out in here,” said Lora Gilbert, the senior director of food and nutrition program for Orange County Public Schools. 

But, what makes this lunch time so special is the food.  

“We have our farm fresh produce from the gardens and it gets grown and moved straight into the cafeteria,” said 12th-grader Emily Lewis. 

Adding to the gardens on campus is a new greenhouse. 

“These are tower gardens that are growing a mix of lettuce, which is harvested on a regular basis by our students,” said Peter Jordan, a teacher at Ocoee High School. 

It has taken two years to get this project off the ground. 

A work of love and commitment by Orange County Public Schools and sponsors like 4 Rivers. 

“How can we get kids excited about agriculture, create jobs for them when they come out, get healthy nutritional food back into the school system and reduce the cost in the process of it?” said 4 Rivers CEO John Rivers. 

So far the harvest is impressive. 

“We had 600 pounds in cucumbers last year, plus 200 pounds in tomatoes and probably 200-300 pounds in lettuce in one year,” Jordan said. 

All of the food goes to the school and the extra is free for students to take home. 

“It’s just gonna be a win-win for the students,” Gilbert said. 

But, this is only the beginning. 

4 Rivers is building a commercial farm in Orlando that could one day hire these students. 

“When it’s up and running, it will be able to give food to all of the cafeterias,” Rivers said. 

Bringing the farm to school in more ways than one. 

“It’s really, really cool,” Lewis said.

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