BENNINGTON -- A recently released cookbook developed by Vermont school nutrition professionals aims to promote healthy eating among Vermont's youth.

Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), the Vermont Agency of Education, and the School Nutrition Association of Vermont collaborated with the New England Culinary Institute to write, "New School Cuisine: Nutritious and Seasonal Recipes for School Cooks by School Cooks."

According to a release distributed by the Agency of Education, the cookbook, which features unique, seasonal recipes, is designed to help schools incorporate more local, fresh food in the meals they serve, while simultaneously adhering to the new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) school nutrition standards.

"I am very pleased and excited to provide our food service programs in Vermont, and throughout the country, this creative, colorful, and fun resource," Agency of Education Child Nutrition Programs Director Laurie Colgan said in the release. "The recipes are delicious and will help our schools get more local foods in their school menus."

The book's release comes shortly after National Farm to School month, which was recognized across the U.S. during the month of October.

All of the recipes included in the cookbook, from savory dishes like chicken vegetable curry, to sweeter dishes, like the strawberry spinach salad, were taste-tested and approved by hundreds of students.

The book also includes information on how to make buying local food more affordable, tips on introducing new recipes into school cafeterias, and produce storage guides.

Locally, members of Mount Anthony Union Middle School's "New Roots" Farm to School Committee are enthusiastic about the book's release.

Maureen O'Neil, committee member and food service director for the Southern Vermont sector of the Abbey Group, the food service company that provides local schools with breakfast and lunch accommodations, said she and her fellow "New Roots" members had the opportunity to sample some of the book's recipes this past June during a three-day visit to the Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms.

"The kale hummus and brownies were delicious," she said. "I know that a lot of hard work went into this cookbook."

Helen Fields, another "New Roots" committee member, said the recipes are kid-friendly and relatively easy to prepare.

"They're simple, highly nutritious, diverse and tasty," she said, noting the use of many spices and herbs in a lot of the recipes. "The biggest benefit is that by making the meals they've proposed, you can create very interesting, tasty, and nutritious food on a limited budget. It's also fun for the kids because they love to taste interesting things and experiment," she said. "Kids are always very surprised at how good veggies taste if you cook them right. This book is great for that."

According to the Agency of Education, a free copy of the cookbook will soon be distributed to every Vermont school. A printable version can also be downloaded at www.vtfeed.org.

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com or follow her on Twitter @bethconkey.