BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – The organizations behind the effort to include more locally grown, fresh ingredients in school breakfasts and lunches are providing special training to the people who prepare the meals.

This week, food service staff from all 15 school districts within Broome-Tioga BOCES are receiving hands-on culinary training at Coltivare in Ithaca.

It’s in conjunction with the New York Thursdays, a joint effort between BOCES, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Food and Health Network, that brings locally produced produce and meats into school cafeterias.

Annie Hudock, Senior Food Service Director with BOCES says the students have responded favorably to the fresher food.

“They see a lot of different products before we even put them on the menu,” said Hudock “Things like cauliflower and broccoli where they may not have it at home. We do black beans and pinto beans that they may not be accustomed to. So we really try to have it well rounded in what they are tasting in our New York menus.”

The workers split into 2 groups, spending half of their time working on their knife skills, and the rest in the kitchen, learning recipes and techniques for slower cooked meals using fresh meat and beans.

Roughly 20 members of the food service staff from Chenango Valley School District attended today, including Head Cook Jill Truman.

“There’s a lot more to making these homemade recipes than opening up a box of chicken nuggets and dumping them on a tray,” said Truman. “You definitely have better food out there and the kids, if it’s more appealing looking, they’re going to want to buy it.”

Each day, different districts send their employees for the one day training. It was paid for through a grant from the USDA and Ag and Markets.