Official: Students eager to eat local veggies

WENATCHEE, Wash. — Wenatchee School District buys about 20 percent of its produce for school lunches directly from local farms, and its food services director says it’s a good way to meet new federal criteria for more fruits and vegetables.

Kent Getzin said he increased local buying for better quality, improved student nutrition and to support local farms.

Students are educated about what grows locally, said Vicki Kelley, Getzin’s secretary.
Last fall, Kelley helped high school kitchen staff get students to sample about a dozen heirloom varieties of tomatoes in school hallways.

“We set up tables and sliced all these goofy looking tomatoes and encouraged kids to try them,” she said.

“Some would say, ‘I don’t like tomatoes,’ and I would say, ‘You should try this one. It’s lower in acid and a little sweeter,'” she said.

Students liked the tomatoes, she said.

The district began buying apples from local fruit giant Stemilt Growers Inc. 12 years ago but buys from several area farms now and places orders before the growing season.
“We get great variety,” Getzin said.

The district buys most of its local produce in the fall, but it buys potatoes, winter squash and apples year-round. Suppliers include Cloud View Eco Farms in Royal City, Smithson Ranch and T&T Farms near Wenatchee and Yaksum Canyon Truck Farm near Peshastin.

“The Wenatchee School District is way ahead of the curve on this,” Getzin said, noting the buy-local concept appears new to other school food service directors. read more…