A recent partnership with Hollar and Greene provided fresh cabbage for unique menu items.
Larisa Stanachich chops cabbage in front of the camera and tosses it with chopped carrots, celery and broccoli. She adds ginger, garlic, sesame oil, black pepper and ginger powder. Then she roasts the vegetables and, finally, adds soy sauce. With the magic of TV, the dish is done in seconds.
“As you see, it’s very simple to make," Stanachich says with an encouraging tone. "It’s simple, delicious and colorful.”
It’s a cooking show, of sorts, but it’s not in a studio or a fancy home kitchen. Stanachich is demonstrating a dish that was recently served where she works as an assistant kitchen manager — in the Belle Terre Elementary School cafeteria.
Matthew Mounkes posted the video to a new YouTube channel, Flagler_FNS, where, in his new role as Food Services community engagement specialist, he has created four episodes — so far — to help the community see that school lunch isn’t what it used to be.
“When I was in high school, I had a chicken sandwich that might have been there on Monday and was still there on Friday,” Mounkes recalled on March 13 in an office at the Government Services Building. He was stuck with rectangle pizza and few other choices. “Nowadays," he said, "it’s a food court at the high schools.”
Mounkes (pronounced MUNK-is) feels that part of his job is to help the community understand that children can get healthy food at the school — and how that benefits everyone. Whether you have children in the school district or not, those students are the future leaders of the community, and we’re all better off if they’re healthy, he said.
Free breakfast is available to every student in Flagler Schools. Lunch is sold for about $2.60, and families can apply for reduced prices (40 cents) or free lunches, if they qualify. The more participation in lunch, the more confident the community can be that children are getting the food they need, Mounkes said. Also, more participation means more funding is available from the federal government, and that gives Food Services more flexibility in providing quality food.
And thanks to people like Stanachich — and a local company — the menu keeps changing. Her stir-fry dish was made possible by a donation from Bunnell-based produce company Hollar and Greene. All the school cafeterias got locally grown cabbage to create their own dishes.
“Before I started working here, if I had kids, I’d be packing lunch for them,” said Mounkes, who recently helped the district celebrate National School Breakfast Week. “But it’s not like that anymore. We’re trying to change the mindset of people. If they want to send their students in with a lunch, that’s OK, but there are other options out there, and it’s not how it used to be.”