BROOMFIELD, Colo. — On Wednesday, September 13, schools across the state will celebrate Colorado Proud School Meal Day. Governor John Hickenlooper proclaims the day to encourage schools to incorporate Colorado products in their meals, to celebrate Colorado agriculture and to educate students about agriculture and healthy eating. Sunrise Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. will celebrate Colorado Proud School Meal Day by showcasing local agriculture from field to plate.
“This celebration involves all aspects of the food system,” said Shaina Knight, Colorado Proud School Meal Day Program Manager. “From farms to distribution, regulatory agencies, chefs and staff, food is then enjoyed by students who are encouraged to shop locally. Not many realize the cooperation it takes to bring food to Colorado tables.”
Cherry Creek Food and Nutrition staff Erika Edwards and Shanna Williams, in conjunction with Chef Brandon Durio, hope to connect students with agriculture by planning visits from the USDA Food and Nutrition Services Farm to School Regional Lead, the Department of Defense and the Colorado Department of Education. Staff from both agencies will be spending lunch with students and talking about local agriculture and healthy eating.
Another integral partner in making the farm to school connection is FreshPack Produce in Denver. FreshPack connects schools to local food by providing sales, distribution and warehouse services that support both the farmers and school districts. FreshPack supports the day’s activities by helping Cherry Creek source and serve Palisade peaches and local green beans. Chef Brandon with Cherry Creek Schools will offer samples of roasted peaches to all students, this is in addition to the fresh peaches and fresh green beans staff will be preparing for lunch.
Students at Sunrise will also receive promotional materials and coupons from Sprouts Farmers Market to further support making the connection with agriculture and food at home as well as at school.
“Many consumers don’t realize that retailers source from Colorado farmers and ranchers, and the Colorado Department of Agriculture works with local grocery stores to identify and promote Colorado products, said Knight. “Sprouts decided to generously help families of Sunrise buy local by offering a promotional coupon.”
Colorado Proud School Meal Day is expected to reach more than 200,000 students across the state.
“Farm to school takes effort from all parties involved; it is incredible to see people willing to take the steps needed to benefit the economy and youth. This day encompasses the very nature of bringing a community together with agriculture and expanding food choices,” affirms Knight.
— Colorado Department of Agriculture
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