Grizzly Hill Elementary has a long history of serving fresh, high-quality food to its small population of students. The community in North San Juan, and especially the parents who have children at Grizzly Hill, have advocated strongly for excellent school meals – even holding a fundraiser to pay for organic food in the Grizzly Hill kitchen.
Last year this newsletter put a spotlight on Grizzly Hill’s popular new salad bar, purchased by Sierra Harvest. This year, again with help from Sierra Harvest, Grizzly Hill is taking it up another notch, and serving local, grass-fed beef. Few schools can afford to serve meat that costs $7/lb, but the community has once again come together to make it happen. Mike Blagg donated a steer to Sierra Harvest for this project, but that was just the first step. The steer had to be raised, and eventually turned over to Debbie Gomez, Grizzly Hill’s chef, in a usable form. That’s where rancher Charles Grande stepped in – he agreed to raise the steer on his 40-acre ranch in Penn Valley.
At the beginning of the school year, Sierra Harvest filled Grizzly Hill’s freezer with 200 lbs of grass-fed beef from that steer. “We even got the liver and the tail!” says Gomez. She plans to serve the beef in several forms of delicious and nutritious scratch-cooked lunches including spaghetti, stew, burritos, soup, and stir fry.
Grizzly Hill isn’t the only Nevada County school who is interested in local, grass-fed beef. Theresa Ruiz, food service director for the Nevada Joint Union High School District, recently contacted Sierra Harvest to find out where she could get grass-fed beef for a staff BBQ at Nevada Union. Sierra Harvest was able to arrange a deal with Nevada County Free Range Beef to get Ruiz 60lbs of beef at a discount.
Up at Grizzly Hill, Gomez is looking forward to seeing how the kids receive the new beef. Sierra Harvest was curious about how she was planning to use the less familiar parts of the steer. Gomez told us that the tail will produce an especially rich, tasty soup stock. As for how to use the liver, she hasn’t decided yet but guaranteed it will be delicious and nutritious.
A big thanks to Mike Blagg, Charles Grande and Debbie Gomez for collaborating to get students the best school food possible.