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Genoa chef partners with Lewis Elementary for harvest dinner

by: Elizabeth Ussher Groff Genoa Restaurant chef David Anderson ]center), student teacher Kristina Engstrom, and parent Kevin McConville, together serve pumpkin-rice soup at the Meriwether Lewis Elementary School Fall Harvest Dinner on October 21st.

When chef David Anderson of Genoa Restaurant and Accanto Café prepared a harvest dinner for the Meriwether Lewis Elementary School community, on Friday night, October 21st, 160 people - school families, friends, and neighbors - were treated to delicious, local, seasonal food.

This special cafeteria evening meal was the third community-building dinner hosted at Lewis Elementary, with Anderson serving up gourmet, healthful fare.

Eighteen months ago, Chef Anderson got involved in the 'Chefs Move to Schools' initiative, begun by First Lady Michelle Obama, as a way to help educate children and show them that nutrition can be tasty and fun.

Anderson's partnership with the school has included guest visits during gardening classes, and cooking demonstrations in the third grade classrooms. He hosted his first meal at Lewis in October of 2010, and he'll cook a fourth meal at the school next May 18th. Genoa donates all of the food, and Anderson donates his time. Proceeds from the meals and a $5 raffle go toward existing school programs.

On the menu for the October 21st Fall Harvest Dinner were pumpkin and rice soup, braised short ribs, 'macaroni and cheese' - macaroni, with cauliflower and broccoli sauce (this writer was fooled into thinking there was actually cheese involved), mixed green salad, and apple crisp with ice cream. Students dining with their families loved the tender beef, as well as the gourmet 'macaroni and cheese'.

On the following Monday, Lewis students, along with all other 'hot lunch' students throughout the Portland Public School district, enjoyed a special Food Day menu celebrating the first national 'Earth Day for Food'. Hamburgers of grass-fed beef from the Wallowa Valley served up on whole wheat buns made from sustainable Shepherd's Grain flour, along with freshly-picked apples from a farm at the base of Mt Hood in Parkdale, were on trays in the cafeteria.

The 'Portland Composts' plan inaugurated citywide on October 31st may motivate more people to keep food scraps out of the garbage or garbage disposal. However, this idea is not a new one for Lewis students (and for some other students in the Portland Public Schools), who have been composting all fruit and vegetable scraps after each lunch and community meal for the past four years - thanks to the efforts of parents, and Lewis Community Agent Julia Gray.

While eating his meal on that particular Friday night, one student proudly described to his parents how the Third Grade Green Team (composed of two different students each day) takes the bucket of fruit and vegetable scraps out to the Lewis Garden compost bin after lunch hour. Students know that the compost helps plump out the school garden vegetables that they sample during their garden class times.

To learn more about these Lewis Elementary School community meals, as well as to see comprehensive information about Lewis School go online to: www.lewiselementary.org .