Schools Notebook: District hosts community barbeque

Fourth-annual Farm to School Community BBQ highlights the local foods showing up in district lunchrooms. Plus, free dance performances and an update on the superintendent search

Local foods are the focus of the fourth-annual Minneapolis Public Schools Farm to School Community BBQ. Credit: Submitted image

District students and their families are invited to the fourth-annual Minneapolis Public Schools Farm to School Community BBQ on Sept. 24.

The cookout is a chance to learn more about the district’s Farm to School program that puts locally sourced foods on cafeteria trays. The district estimates close to one-third of all food served in Minneapolis school lunchrooms this year will come from local growers and manufacturers.

Another aspect of the Farm to School program is introducing students to local foods and the farmers who grow them. The district’s Culinary and Nutrition Services Department organizes taste tests in schools to introduce students to new menu items made with local ingredients, including beet hummus and red rice and apple salad.

Last school year, about 40 percent of all district students had a chance to sample one of the new menu items in a taste test, the district reports. Local chefs serving on the True Food Chef Council help out both in recipe development and on the taste tests.

Some of those chefs, as well as the local growers who supply the district, are expected at the community barbeque. Attendees will have a chance to sample local foods, listen to live music, pet farm animals, watch live cooking demonstrations, learn about gardening and composting and more.

In the annual corn-shucking contest, Interim Superintendent Michael Goar is set to take on Carrie Tollefson, spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program. Tollefson, a Minnesota native, is probably better known as a middle-distance runner and member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.

The barbeque runs 5 p.m.–7:30 p.m. at the Minneapolis Public Schools Nutrition Center, 812 N. Plymouth Ave. The corn-shucking contest scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

Also coming up on Oct. 1 is the district’s first Minnesota Thursday meal of the year. On the first Thursday of every month, all schools serve an entirely locally sourced meal.

This year’s first Minnesota Thursday menu features a grass-fed turkey taco from Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls; a whole-grain tortilla from Catallia Mexican Foods in St. Paul; pico de gallo made with fresh herbs and vegetables supplied by Agua Gorda Cooperative in Long Prairie and Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm in Waverly; cantaloupe from Cala Farm in Turtle Lake, Wis.; and apple crisp made with apples from Jordan’s Minnesota Harvest Orchard.


Partnership exposes students to dance

All Minneapolis Public Schools eighth-grade students will have an opportunity to see a professional dance performance this school year.

The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts has partnered with the district to provide free admission to its student matinee series for all MPS eighth graders during the 2015–2016 season. The cost of tickets and busing is being paid for through the Cultural Experiences Partnership program, a district collaboration with local arts institutions that aims to involve district students in arts and cultural activities.

The hour-long programs inside the Cowles Center’s Goodale Theater include a performance followed by a question-and-answer session with the artists. Participating dance companies this season include James Sewell Ballet, Threads Dance Project, SHAPESHIFT, Zorongo Flamenco Dance & Theatre, Zenon Dance Company and TU Dance.


Board to review superintendent leadership profile

The Minneapolis Board of Education is scheduled to review a leadership profile report meant guide its selection of a new district leader at its Sept. 29 meeting.

The report is the next big step in the board’s search for a permanent superintendent, a project that began after former Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson announced her resignation last December. Michael Goar, who served as district CEO under Johnson, is the district’s interim superintendent.

Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, an executive search firm based in Rosemont, Ill., is developing the profile with input from an online community survey, an open forum held in mid-September and a series of meetings with students, teachers, school board members and other district stakeholders. The firm was tasked with recruiting superintendent candidates and presenting a slate of candidates to the board.

Under the district’s current timeline for the superintendent search, a slate of superintendent semifinalists are scheduled to interview with the school board in mid-November. Finalists then return for a second round of interviews in early December, and the board intends to identify its preferred candidate by Dec. 8. The new superintendent would then start July 1.

For more on the search process and timeline, go to