Sockeye a hit at school lunch
Primary students at Haines School may not know a lot, but they know what they like, and this week that included the school’s teriyaki sockeye fillets.
Judging from interviews and leftovers in trays at the school cafeteria Tuesday, young students liked the fish a lot more than side dishes of couscous and mashed sweet potatoes they were served. The lunch was the Haines Borough School District’s first to feature locally caught fish.
Second-grader Eric Gillham,7, cleaned his tray of salmon. “Yummy,” he said. Gillham said he prefers salmon even to corn dogs. “I like fish better than pizza.”
A few tables over, Odin Jacobson, 10, wasn’t even bothering to use a utensil. He grabbed his fish with his fingers. “I’m being a hog here. I really like it, though. It’s just perfect,” he said.
Jacobson said his family doesn’t eat sockeye at home often. “But it’s a big treat when we do have it.”
Kindergartener Miranda Allen, 5, had eaten most of her fillet in the first few minutes of lunch. She and table mates Emma Dohrn and Rio Ross-Hirsch ranked the fillets as “awesome” and also reported that they had found no bones. “Maybe it’s the tail,” Allen said.
First-graders Jackson Long, Jordan Verhamme, and Kayden Guthrie sat together eating their school lunch. Guthrie, 6, said he didn’t care for the couscous or sweet potato. “I like sockeye fish,” he said.
Long said the salmon was okay, but not as good as his mom’s. “She doesn’t make teriyaki salmon. She makes candied salmon.”
Reached by phone this week, mom Pam Long said her son’s favorite recipe includes maple syrup and soy sauce. But she was glad he liked the school’s version. “The kids were really excited about it. I was sure pleased… Local salmon beats all.”
School district food program director Gen Armstrong said she was enthused by the reception. The district didn’t serve any more meals than usual, but some of the cafeteria’s pickiest eaters cleaned their plates, she said.
There was very little waste overall, she said.
Local seafood will be on the school menu every month and she’s looking to use shrimp or prawns instead of chicken in a stir-fry dish.
Also, because federal nutritional guidelines for school lunches have been ramped up, lunches will start seeing changes like whole-grain bread products. This year they’re easing students into new grains, she said.