Coltivare Hosts Farm-to-School Training for Local School District Food Service Workers

Four people in kitchen at Coltivare

Thanks to a $29,000 grant from the Park Foundation, Coltivare is providing training for local school district food service workers to serve fresher, healthier, and more appealing meals to schoolchildren. For three days this summer, food service workers from school districts in Tompkins County took part in a “boot camp” at Coltivare, Tompkins Cortland Community College’s culinary center in downtown Ithaca. The training, led by Coltivare Executive Chef Patrick Blackman, provided area food service personnel hands-on workshops on areas including food preparation with fresh ingredients and ways to improve recipes to get children to eat healthier. 

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.” 

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County helped organize the event. Forty food service workers from Dryden, Groton, Ithaca, Lansing, Newfield, New Roots, and Trumansburg school districts took part in the training, which also meshes nicely with New York State’s Farm to School Program. The Farm to School Program 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 staff and High School chefs

Boot Camp Participants (l to r): Robin Wood, Newfield; Darleen Serbaniewicz, Dryden; Beth Krause, Ithaca; Jason Sidle, Coltivare; Chloe Boutelle, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County Farm to School Coordinator; Patrick Blackman, Coltivare; Rose Hanson, Trumansburg; Sue Kittel, Park Foundation Program Officer; Linda Grieve, Groton