SF school food gets fresh over the summer

strawberries in boxes
Strawberries are some of the fruits served to students over the summer.

By SFUSD Communications Office

Did you know that that some 2,500 students in Early Education ate fresher food over the summer than in previous years? And that’s not all -- students are poised to continue munching on local, organic produce into the 2018-19 school year.

Strawberries, watermelon, peaches and plums -- those are just a few of the fruits that made their way onto the plates of students this past summer, marking the first time San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has purchased products directly from a local farm.

SFUSD is locally sourcing more of its fresh fruit and vegetables for students in the 2018-19 school year as part of an effort to bring more sustainable sources of food into school cafeterias.

For fiscal year 2019, the district has budgeted $850,000 for produce — $50,000 of which goes toward the district’s participation in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The pilot project was created as part of the Agricultural Act of 2014, which “makes major changes in commodity programs, adds new crop insurance options, streamlines conservation programs, modifies some provisions of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and expands programs for specialty crops, organic farmers, bioenergy, rural development, and beginning farmers and ranchers.”

The produce pilot project is meant to offer more purchasing flexibility and options for unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and allow additional opportunities for schools to use entitlement funding to both purchase locally-grown foods and continue pre-existing commercial distribution channels. This is the first year that schools in the United States have participated in the pilot program.

Last spring, SFUSD named Milpitas-based Daylight Foods as its vendor for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the district. Daylight Foods works with several local farms in the greater Bay Area, meaning students are eating produce -- including strawberries, mandarins, nectarines, plums, pluots, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas -- grown right here in our own backyard!

“You can’t underestimate the value of a nutritious diet for growing students, and eating fresh, organic produce is such an important part of that,” said Alexandra Emmott, Culinary Manager for SFUSD’s Student Nutrition Services. “

“We are thrilled to partner with these local farms that provide delicious and healthy treats for our students,” said Jennifer Lebarre, Executive Director of Student Nutrition Services. “We are excited about the possibilities of growing these partnerships into the new school year so we can expand our offering of organic, fresh produce to students.”

A few highlights about the fresh produce served to Early Education students over the summer:

- Over 2,400 lbs of local organic strawberries from Coke Farms in Hollister, Calif.

- Over 2,100 lbs of local organic watermelon from Coke Farms in Hollister, Calif.

- Over 1,600 lbs of local organic summer squash from Coke Farms in Hollister, Calif.

- Over 7,000 lbs of local stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums) from a variety of Northern California farms, including: Kingsburg Orchards (Kingsburg, Calif.); Del Mar Farms (Patterson, Calif.); Holland Ranch (Patterson, Calif.); and Wawona Growers (Fresno, Calif.)

For more information, visit Student Nutrition Services