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Temple ISD partnering with local farmers for more nutritious meals

Posted at 10:08 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 23:08:00-04

The Temple ISD school nutrition team works year-round to get fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables on the plates of thousands of students.

It's an initiative made possible through a partnership with the Texas Department of Agriculture's Farm Fresh program. The program strives to create a partnership between local farmers and ranchers and school districts for a farm to table experience for kids.

We can all remember the days of school lunch. Some days it was frozen, other times it came out of a can. With the Farm Fresh program, at Temple ISD, they are using lunchtime as a teachable moment to expand their pallet.

It's no secret that food is fuel. The best fuel is premium, it's something that District Nutrition Director Ian Vestal is always on the hunt for.

Vestal said, "When you have your kids participating in it you realize how important it becomes."

With two of his own kids in Temple ISD, he says that the breakfast lunch combo needs to be more than just a frozen dish.

"You know a kid needs that certain meal foundation, especially a growing kid," Vestal said.

The program also introduces kids to different types of home-grown food and sparks curiosity about farming - all while providing them a meal with nutritional value.

Miranda Rhodes, the district's registered dietitian, said, "It provides nutritious and fresh fruits to the kids, and it also supports the businesses such as the farms themselves."

Rhodes believes this program expands the student's perception about food too. She said with this program she has been able to get students engaged about learning about their food and has gotten feedback about the program.

"The kids are able to see where the food is grown as well so they are more open to trying different variety of fresh local food," said Rhodes.

Seeking out this premium food is a little more work but it makes all the difference.

Vestal said, "It might be a little extra work or a little extra planning, but we are able to say hey this came from the ground to your plate."

This month it's freshly picked pears from right down the road, and for the fall they are looking to add sweet potatoes to the menu.

All of the fresh produce and veggies are delivered to each TISD campus fresh every morning, to cut down on the day of storage to ensure maximum freshness.

The nutrition team recently won another award for commitment to the Farm Fresh Initiative.