All the students at Sanford were given the opportunity to try red and yellow tomato varieties with cornchips and asked to indicate which they preferred.


Sanford Elemen­tary students received a special treat last Thursday.
Representatives from the Land Stewardship Project Terry VanDerPol and Tom Taylor, along with Lynn Mader from the Uni­versity of Minnesota Ex­tension program, Pau­line Strand­lund of PK Strand­lund Farms, and Audrey Arner of Moonstone Farm, paid a visit to the school last Thursday with bunches of tomatoes in tow.
The group is working together to support good nutrition and help promote locally-grown foods at our schools.
“We’d like to begin  serving more locally produced foods to our children,” said Taylor. “It’s fresher, more nutritious and it helps support our local economy.”
The tomatoes were grown by local farmers including Arner, Diane Wiebe of Boyd, and Watson residents Aziz Ansari and Bob Bunn.
All the students at Sanford were given the opportunity to try red and yellow tomato varieties with cornchips and asked to indicate which they preferred.
Some, like 4th-grader Miranda Sulier preferred the yellow. Others, like 4th-grader Chase Pearson, didn’t care for either.
Students were given stickers to place on a chart  which, at the end, showed a visual as to which variety was most popular. Not surprisingly, the red won, but not by much.
Mader, who is also a member of the school nutrition and fitness task force and the Wellness Committee said, “It was pretty surprising. There were a lot (of children) who liked both. Less than 10 percent said they didn’t like either.
“A lot of kids tried them who never had a tomato before, even some who didn’t like tomatoes tried them.”
Later, Taylor and Mader mixed up a big batch of fresh, mild salsa, a recipe they found on Chef Ann Cooper’s food service Web site. The salsa made a perfect complement to the day’s lunch of tacos.
“A lot of students tried the salsa,” said Modder. “It was a very positive experience and a good way to raise interest for healthy foods.”
Joyce Peterson, food service director at Sanford has been with the school since 1976, serving as food service director for the last six years. Peterson said, “I think the kids were interested in the fact that there were so many different colors and varieties of tomatoes.
“Some (varieties) were quite unique.”
Peterson also said she thought it was a good idea because it helps the kids have a better understanding of where their food comes from.
Peterson said the school is taking advantage of the local produce while they can. They purchased tomatoes, onions and broccoli from local producers and will continue to do so while it is available. They will also continue to purchase apples from the Swensson Farm.
“During the winter months when local produce is not available we will go back to ordering from our regular suppliers,” said Peterson.