The Chopped Produce Initiative is a new way to get vegetables grown by local farmers into schools in Warren County and the surrounding region, thereby increasing students’ access to fresh, healthy, local produce.
How it works: fresh produce is harvested by local farmers and brought to our certified processing facility–the Warren County Produce Center, part of our Food Hub. There it is chopped and bagged by local workers—including food service employees of Warren County Schools and local high school students—and distributed to participating school districts. We keep the cold chain intact to ensure high quality.
This project has had a tremendous impact on individual farmers and the county as a whole. If we are able to grow produce, add value to it, and consume it in the county, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Victor Hunt, farmer
Products: Currently, we are offering two products: chopped collards and chopped cabbage. These products are ready to wash, cook, and serve. We are exploring other products as well.
How can my school district participate? Chopped collards and cabbage are usually available from October through February. During this season, produce is chopped and delivered weekly, according to your needs.
Starting in fall 2015, we are pleased to partner with Greenville Produce to offer our products to school districts in northeastern North Carolina. If your district is served by Greenville Produce, you may contact us or them to discuss ordering. If your district is not served by Greenville Produce, contact us directly to discuss delivery options.
Our participation in this initiative has helped us improve the quality and convenience of serving fresh vegetables in our schools at a reasonable cost.
Robert Parker, Child Nutrition Director, Warren County Schools
What will my district get by participating? In addition to getting the highest-quality local, fresh-cut produce, districts that participate in the Chopped Produce Initiative are also eligible to participate in our What’s Growing On program, which offers taste-testing events in cafeterias, promotional materials about seasonal, local produce, and coordinated curriculum materials for teachers. This educational programming helps get kids excited about the local produce on your menu and gives your child nutrition program a positive publicity boost!
Participating farmers: Through this project, three Warren County farmers have attained GAP (Good Agricultural Practices), making theirs the only USDA GAP-certified farms in the county. Two of these are minority farmers. We source our produce from these farms whenever it is available; when it is not, we source from other GAP-certified family farms in the region.
How this project was developed: The Chopped Produce Initiative is the result of fruitful collaboration between Working Landscapes and an array of local partners, including FoodCorps, Warren County Cooperative Extension, Warren County Economic Development Commission, and Warren County Schools. The Initiative is modeled after the successful New North Florida Cooperative Farm to School Program.
To order fresh, local produce through the Chopped Produce Initiative, contact:
tim (at) workinglandscapesnc.org