Schools buy local
The Lynwood Unified School District holds farmers markets twice a year at each of the district’s nine elementary schools, said Cathy Tang, director of child nutrition services.
Students are given $2 worth of coupons and allowed to buy whatever fruits or vegetables they want.
The district, which has seen product consumption triple since 2008, also offers free morning snacks.
The Rio School District, Oxnard, is in the heart of berry country, and Laurel Goins, foodservice supervisor, said 25% of the parents are migrant farmworkers or work in produce processing plants, so she likes to buy locally.
She said 70 cents of each dollar spent stays in the local community.
School districts make good customers, she said, because they pay their bills on time and “they’re not going anywhere.”
Kara Muniz, director of foodservices for the Hueneme Elementary School District, Port Hueneme, described what she looks for in a produce supplier.
Her criteria include access to local/seasonal produce, frequent — even daily — deliveries, great customer service, prices that reflect seasonality, quality produce and sharing farmers’ profiles.
She also said she wants open communication with suppliers, weekly updates on seasonal produce and immediate correction when bad produce arrives.
Hemet Unified School District has done away with packaged or wrapped produce, said Brad Knipscheer, director of nutrition services.
“I couldn’t understand why we were hiding the food,” he said.
Unwrapped fruits and vegetables look more appealing, take less time to prepare and eliminate waste, he said.
The district serves 22,000 meals a day.
Russell Boyd, director of sales for Sunrise Produce, Commerce, which supplies produce to the Rio and Hueneme districts, said Sunrise fills the role of consultant as well as distributor by guiding the districts and helping them stay on budget and achieve their goals.
The workshop was at the Sheraton Cerritos hotel.