NORTH LIBERTY — In North Liberty five elementary schools can be found within a four-mile radius. Three — Garner, Penn and Van Allen — are all part of the Iowa City school district.
Despite their geographical closeness, until this year the three school communities had never worked together on a project benefiting all of their students.
Last spring, members of the Garner Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization cooked up an idea to collect recipes from staff, students and families.
“We thought it would be fun to reach out to the other PTO board in North Liberty as a way to build community strength,” said Jennifer Rose, co-president of Garner’s PTO. “The kids eventually all come together at the junior high level.”
Plus, most of Garner’s older student population attended either Penn or Van Allen before transferring to the city’s newest elementary school in 2010.
Their idea was met with enthusiasm. All three schools solicited recipes from staff and students’ families.
Nearly 300 recipes were collected and will soon be published in the first North Liberty Elementary School cookbook.
Each cookbook is divided into eight sections: appetizers and beverages; soups and salads; bread and rolls; vegetables and sides; main dishes; desserts; cookies and candies; and Kids’ Favorite.
“It’s just a huge mix,” Rose said. “I’d say the main dish section actually turned out to be our biggest. We had to send out a few emails asking for more vegetable and side dish recipes.”
Pre-sale order forms have been sent home with students from all three elementary schools. The goal is to have the cookbooks printed and ready for delivery before school dismisses for summer vacation.
The plan is to print enough cookbooks to fill orders, although that number could increase if community demand is high.
Cost is $10 per cookbook. Proceeds will be divided evenly among the three schools, although Rose says fundraising wasn’t top priority.
“We didn’t see this as a fundraiser, so we set the price low,” she says. “The goal was always collaboration and we’ve done a lot more of that. There’s been a lot more communication, a lot more reaching out to each other. It’s silly for us not to use each other. We’re literally a mile apart.”
Rose hopes the partnership that has formed between the three PTOs will extend to the school communities overall. If a cookbook doesn’t do it, the PTOs have organized a fun run on May 18, with a route that will take participants past all three schools.
Proceeds from the run will benefit the Family Resource Centers at Garner, Penn and Van Allen.
To order a cookbook, email the Garner PTO presidents at firstname.lastname@example.org.