A supplier of fruits and vegetables to schools lobbied Congress July 23 for continued funding for produce in schools.
Phillip Muir, president and chief executive officer of Salt Lake City-based Muir Copper Canyon Farms, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
The committee contacted Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, and United Fresh asked Muir, a former United Fresh board member, to testify, said Ray Gilmer, United Fresh’s vice president of issues management and communications.
In his testimony, Muir supported the continued implementation of the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 and requirements that children have access to a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables and select a half-cup of fruits or vegetables at each meal.
In May, the House Appropriations Committee approved a plan allowing schools to opt out of nutrition standards that increase fresh fruits and vegetables in meals if districts can show they’re losing money under the standards.
In his prepared testimony, Muir told senators that schools his company supplies have successfully integrated more fruits and vegetables into lunches.
Copper Canyon Farms supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to 52 rural and urban school districts in Utah, Idaho, and western Wyoming. Schools account for about 15% of the company’s total sales.
“Schools that were proactive in improving the healthfulness of school meals early on, made incremental changes and offered nutrition education are not having problems or experiencing increased plate waste,” Muir said. “Schools that have the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program — these are the highest poverty elementary schools in our area — are successfully implementing the new nutrition standards because they have already introduced their students to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.”
When kids are served great-tasting fruits and vegetables, Muir told the committee, they will eat them.
“I receive continued feedback from kids, parents and school officials in my own community, thanking me and the schools for undertaking these changes.”