Thursday, September 27, 2012

At last!

Farm to Fork Movement enters local schools

Credit: Paul Boehlke/ KTVB

by Dee Sarton
Bio | Email | Follow: @
Posted on September 26, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Updated yesterday at 11:16 PM
BOISE -- Unless your school age kids have told you, you may not be aware that big changes have been underway in their school lunchrooms this fall.

More fresh fruits and vegetables, it is not just a choice your kids are offered - it is a federal requirement. 

That massive overhaul of nutrition standards for schools is designed to address the problem of childhood obesity and overall poor eating habits.

Goals shared by the Farm to Fork Movement.

School lunches are not what they used to be. Oh, lunchrooms are still a bit chaotic ...but look at the choices students have these days.

Some students, like Sam Roseberry and Hailee Stotts from Middleton High School, choose healthy all the way.  What they do not know is, they're also choosing local. 

"What do you know about peach you have in your hand? Nothing really. That it's healthy. Do you like peaches? Do you eat them a lot? Yeah. Where do you think that peach grew? Some farm somewhere. How about just a few miles from here. Really? And picked off the tree just a few days ago. Wow. Makes it more delicious."

That's music to the ears of fruit growers like Jamie Mertz and Dar Symms with Symms Fruit Ranch.

"I still have a few trees that my great grandfather planted in," Mertz says.

His family's fruit ranch dates back nearly 100 years. Even though they ship all over the world, including Taiwan, it's important to grow up local consumers and keep the Idaho market strong.

"These things are grown in their backyard, right here in Canyon county they're fresh that's my goal is to get these off of the tree and they can be in the consumers mouth and have that juice drip off their chin," Mertz said.

And of course that takes logistics- that start in the packing shed.

Symms says, "We hope people will recognize and even request Idaho fruit. It would be great if we sold more fruit in the state of Idaho."

Good for them, good for you, and good for schools and here is why: transportation costs.

Food Servcies of America ships Idaho fruit all over the U.S. but also handles local distribution.

When Idaho schools buy local, they actually save money, for example they get $3.30 off each case of peaches.

Les Jenkins with Food Services of America says,  "It's a huge savings. When you annualize whose kinds of savings that's a lot of money. Plus, the children are getting fresh picked product, healthier product."

Which helps people like Barbara Bumgardner, who has to meet new federal guidelines when she plans menus and buys food for the Middleton School District.
She thinks fresh and local produce is helping change her students' habits.

"Our students in the district are so amazing with the fruits and veggies that they eat. We frequently have to bring in a second truck load in," said Bumgardner.

Bottom line, youngsters have to eat their fruits and veggies in school and they seem to love it. So maybe jumping on board with the Farm to Fork movement by buying local and fresh is getting a boost in our local schools.

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