“I’d like to make a toast. This is the best food I’ve ever had!”
-Ty, third grade.
On December 10th, thirty students from Mrs. Houchin’s third grade class took a field trip to Butte High School where they made butternut squash pancakes with Mrs. Bryant’s Culinary Arts Class. The students were celebrating the December Harvest of the Month: winter squash. Each month the cafeteria serves a local, Montana-grown item and students learn about that item in their classes. I have been doing garden and nutrition lessons with Mrs. Houchin’s class all fall, so this trip was an extra special end to the fall gardening season for the students!
The day started with the students eagerly entering the Culinary Arts classroom to find out that they got to wear hair nets and aprons. To the surprise of the high school students, the third-graders were really excited about the hair nets! It must be because none of them wanted “hair-food.” As one third-grader explained to me, “you have to keep the hair out of your food, or else you will have hair-food.” Mrs. Bryant did a demo of how to cut, de-seed, peel, and chop squash. The kids were excited to learn that we could plant the squash seeds in our garden this spring.
Next the students went to their cooking stations, with three third graders assigned to each high school student. The high schoolers were great at leading the kids, letting them mix together the ingredients and flip the pancakes. “My favorite part was when we got to put together all the ingredients and do the cooking” one student said about the day. None of the students had ever had squash in their pancakes before and were surprised to see that they looked just like regular pancakes. Mrs. Houchin showed the students how to make them into Mickey Mouse pancakes. After we cooked, we all sat down in the classroom and enjoyed the meal.
The pancakes were a hit! When asked how they would rate the pancakes, one student said “four thumbs up!” and another exclaimed “no, ten!” Mrs. Bryant also showed the students how to make roasted butternut squash with cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder. The results were mixed on the cubed squash but some kids loved it. “They had a little spice on them which gave them a blast of flavor!” said Peyton, who couldn’t stop tasting the roasted squash. The students were excited to make pancakes for their parents and Mrs. Houchin is going to give them extra credit if they bring in a picture of the pancakes that they made at home.
We are making progress towards one of our Farm to School Action Plan goals that we set last year to increase collaboration between the high school and elementary schools. The day was a huge success. High school students, third-graders, teachers, and volunteers all had a great time. We are going to do it again with four other classes from West Elementary School for our January and February Harvest of the Months. But of course the class was a success, because in the words of third-grader Ty: “Come on, who doesn’t love Mickey Mouse pancakes?!?” Everyone in Mrs. Houchin’s class loves Mickey Mouse pancakes, especially with local butternut squash!
This post was written by second-year FoodCorps member Andi Giddings, who is serving in the Butte Public Schools!