NEGAUNEE, Mi (WJMN) – School lunch has never been thought of as a culinary masterpiece, however, John Truitt tells us, one U.P.  High School is trying to change that perception. 

Negaunee High School’s Environmental Science Class has been awarded a $5,000 grant to support a project that will bring more local food into the lunchroom. Negaunee’s plan comes from Michigan State extension’s lift UP program which challenges students to develop a plan to integrate more locally sourced food served in the cafeteria. Negaunee’s plan includes allocating funds to purchase locally grown foods when fresh produce is readily available from local farms. As the growing season slows down, students will use funds to purchase a third hydroponic system to allow the class to grow their own greens that are incorporated directly into the school lunches. High School Junior Amara Rasmussen sees the value of locally grown, self-sustaining, nutritious food grown just down the hall.

“I really value local food a lot more than I did before. After learning about it.” Said, Rasmussen. “I like, I see how much of like an impact it can make. And it definitely tastes better.”

The $5000 grant will only pay for half of Negaunee’s plan, The rest of the money will be raised from a meat raffle. Negaunee High School’s Environmental Science Class also raises hogs and chickens which are raffled off, the proceeds are then used to support their LIFT UP plan. So far, the students dining in the cafeteria really like the fresh options, with demand outpacing supply. Environmental Science Teacher Todd Backlund is proud of his student’s contribution to healthy lifestyles.

“A lot of healthy options for them and that’s what the students want,” Backlund said. “They don’t want your normal, run-of-the-mill lunch that you know is not healthy or processed and frozen for months to years and they want fresh local food.”

Negaunee Students are increasingly aware of…and grateful for how fresh their food is and in the case of student Will Rosten, it’s changed his outlook on nutrition.

“I used to not have many vegetables before this on my school lunch and now I do because they have a bunch of options now like kale chips and lettuce and a bunch of things like that.” Said, Rosten. “Oh, that I can you try now.” 

And so, the plan to provide self-sustaining, nutritious, and educational has taken root at Negaunee High School.