With new school meal standards, there's a growing interest in sourcing fresh fruits and vegetables regionally and locally. However, Des Moines Public School (DMPS) Nutrition Services Director Sandy Huisman says it's not exactly that easy.
She says, "One thing that we face is: this is how much we can pay for your product. They're growing their crops for a business, and when they can take it elsewhere, to a restaurant or to a farmers' market, and get two or three times what we can afford to pay, financially it's not as attractive to them."
Chef Chad Taylor with DMPS has no doubts that there's increasing interest by both parents and students regarding what's in their food.
He says, "Everyone is always very conscious of calorie intake, and kind of the end result once it's prepared, but now the shift is kind of going to 'Well, let's see where our food is actually coming from, or how it is getting to us.'"
But with Iowa Choice Harvest, it worked out. In six hours, 15 tons of Iowa-grown sweet corn can be flash frozen at its Marshalltown facility for the Des Moines Public Schools' upcoming school year. Iowa Choice Harvest CEO Penny Brown Huber says there's another benefit to sourcing locally: nutrition.
"The natural sugars in the sweet corn, the frozen apples, the carrots soon, that will be all-natural. There will be no additives. And this is important for the Healthy Kids Act that the schools are trying to implement within their school program, because they need to reduce the sodium, so kids aren't taking in so much salt, and then the sugars have to be reduced greatly, too."