Delite Primus, YGP’s executive director, said providing vegetables to the schools is something that the nonprofit organization has been interested in doing for a long time.
In the past, state guidelines that regulated where school districts get the food they serve prevented the school district from buying any of its food from the local organization, Primus said. However, a recent change to those regulations opened up the possibility.
“We met with Deb Rappe, the nutrition director for the schools, and expressed interest in providing produce,” Primus said.
Rappe recently started offering a salad bar as an option for the high school students, and she was excited by the idea of being able to offer fresh, locally grown greens. Primus said she and Rappe have talked about what would be feasible to benefit both the schools and YGP.
“We’re not at a size to provide all of the produce,” Primus said, adding that currently, the YGP is providing four pounds of spinach each week.
“It was great because it all fell into place right before our greens were ready,” she said.
Primus said that the first delivery of greens took place during the first week of April.
“Deb called and asked if we could bring some over,” she said. “We walked it right over.”
As more of the produce matures, Primus said YGP’s staff will work to provide other vegetables as well.
“Right now, we are mainly focusing on veggies that can be put on a salad bar,” she said.
Primus and Rappe worked together to figure out a financial arrangement that was beneficial to both organizations.
“We’re providing the food at a lower cost to the schools than we would sell it to restaurants or the general public,” Primus said. “But it’s at a higher cost than the district would get from their normal provider. I think it’s a good middle ground for both of us.”
Rappe said that she is still ironing out a few issues concerning the new option of the salad bar, but the students have reacted positively so far.
“It’s really nice to have the fresh greens,” she said. “They’re so good.”
Rappe said that the school is trying out the arrangement this year, and she hopes that GCHS will be able to offer even more options on the salad bar next year.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” she said.
In addition to the offerings from the YGP, Rappe said she is also working with Hole Foods Farm out of La Sal to increase the amount of locally grown produce being used.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Primus said. “It’s a small step, but it feels like a pretty big step for the community to move towards this.”