Schools are taking aim at the children’s obesity epidemic by offering more healthful offerings in their cafeteria, and that’s good news for produce grower-shippers.
Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., does a lot of business with distributors that serve schools, said Mike O’Leary, vice president of fresh-cut.
The company bought 50% of Fresh Innovations LLC, Burlington, Wash., and its sliced apple business that is quite popular in schools, he said.
Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed programs to combat obesity and deliver healthful alternatives to schools, the company’s salad mixes, celery sticks, carrot sticks and other products also have found new outlets.
GreenGate Fresh LLP, Salinas, Calif., also does a lot of business with schools through its distributors, said Jay Iverson, partner and vice president of sales.
“For our list of items, it’s big business,” he said. “We’ve seen an upturn in it.”
The company’s lettuce, romaine and cabbage are key components of school salad bars, he said.
The new push for salad bars in schools has “helped create new produce customers for many years to come,” as kids get into the habit of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, he said.
Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., has a twist on the produce in schools concept.
The company invites school kids to its property, where they tour growing facilities including and get a look at the firm’s solar orchard that makes electricity that runs the packinghouse, said John Chamberlain, director of marketing.
Youngsters also learn about recycling, mulching, water use, photosynthesis and the various parts of the company’s lemon trees.
Anyone can take the tour, he said.
The company has been conducting the program for four years. About 500 students from throughout Ventura County participated last year.
“We try to teach how important agriculture is to the economy of California,” Chamberlain said.