A week before Thanksgiving, the lunch menu at all three Grandview Heights school buildings featured roasted turkey as the main course.

The Nov. 15 menu was selected in part because of the impending holiday, food services director Kyle Mahan said.

But the "where" of the menu was just as important as the "what" and the "when."

The holiday-themed meal kicked off the district's participation in the Ohio Days: My Plate, My State Farm to School program.

"One day each month, we'll offer a menu that consists of foods that are entirely produced or processed in Ohio," Mahan said.

"One of the missions and goals of this project is to introduce local-produced foods to students so they can see the difference between a fresh food product and one that is commercially packaged and distributed, perhaps from out of state," he said.

Along with roasted turkey from the Bowman Landes Turkey Farm in New Carlisle, the Nov. 15 menu included cinnamon-roasted sweet potatoes provided by Yellowbird Foodshed in Mount Vernon; apples from the Fruit Growers Marketing Association in Newcomerstown; milk from Smith's Dairy in Orrville; and dinner rolls from Nickles Bakery in Navarre.

"We regularly get our milk and bread from Smith's and Nickles, but these other food items were something new for our students to try," Mahan said.

"Hopefully, the students are going to give these different foods a try," he said. "We're trying to expose them to some different choices in terms of healthy and fresh foods that maybe they can try at home."

Grandview is one of several local school districts participating in the My Plate My State program, Mahan said.

Others include the Columbus, Bexley and Upper Arlington school districts and Little Dreamers, Big Believers day-care centers.

The project is coordinated by Franklin County Public Health, Columbus Public Health, Columbus City Schools and Ohio State University Extension.

While there are suggestions for monthly menu items, each participating school district can choose and craft its own menu of state-produced foods, Mahan said.

"We'll be looking to choose items that are seasonal and, when we can, come up with a theme, like we were able to do with Thanksgiving for November," he said.

When the Ohio Days lunch is served, a monthly family newsletter will be sent home with students, Mahan said.

"It offers information about the health benefits of one of the food items, a recipe people can try out at home and recommendations for snacks using that item," he said.

The November newsletter spotlighted sweet potatoes and offered a recipe for sweet-potato hash.

A food guide for teachers at all grade levels is distributed each month, offering suggestions for activities and lessons in the classroom to educate students about the food system, agriculture, nutrition and wellness, Mahan said.

"Since this is our first month, our teachers haven't really had the chance to incorporate this into their own classrooms yet," he said.

"Our whole mission is educating students, so everything we do -- including lunch period -- can be turned into an opportunity for learning."

Mahan spent the first My Plate My State day at Stevenson Elementary School.

"I just really enjoy watching the look on their faces as students try new dishes," he said. "Sometimes they're a little afraid to try something new. What I love to see is when they try something, like sweet potatoes, and then realize, 'hey, this is pretty good.' "

Kindergarten student Maddie Jump sampled both the apple and the turkey from her tray Nov. 15.

"I like apples," she said. "The turkey's really good, too. It's like we're having Thanksgiving at school."