The Chopped Produce Initiative is an innovative way of getting vegetables grown by local farmers into schools and other cafeterias across our region, thereby increasing consumers’ access to fresh, healthy, local produce.
How it works: fresh produce is harvested by local farmers and brought to our processing facility–the Warren County Produce Center, part of our Food Hub. There it is chopped and bagged before being distributed to participating school districts. We provide quality employment opportunities for local workers in our processing facility.
Products: Currently, we are offering three products: chopped collards, chopped kale, and chopped cabbage. These products are ready to wash, cook, and serve. We are currently developing a diced sweet potato product as well.
Our farmers: We buy produce from family farms in eastern North Carolina, all of whom are GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified. We prioritize sourcing from small and minority farms. We have worked closely with five farms to achieve GAP certification so they could supply this initiative. Current farm suppliers include Bender Farms, Southern Organic Female Farmers Association (SOFFA), and Wise Farms, as well as Trojan Greenleaf, a student farm enterprise operated by the Future Farmers of America club of Southeast Collegiate Prep Academy (Halifax County). Through Trojan Greenleaf, Halifax County Schools has become both a supplier to and a customer of the Chopped Produce Initiative!
Availability: Since our products are locally-sourced, they are available during the local growing season. Typically, our collards, kale, and cabbage are available from September through January and again in May and June. Please contact us to check on availability.
Who we serve: Our wash/cook/serve products are designed to be prepared in a food service environment. We primarily serve school districts, but we have also served universities, child care centers, and hospitals. Our products are delivered via produce distributors, including Farmer Foodshare, Foster-Caviness, and Freshpoint. If your institution is interested in our products but you aren’t currently served by one of these distributors, contact us and we will figure out a logistics solution that works for you!
Farm-to-school solutions for school districts: more than just produce! 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!
Food safety: Our processing operation and facility adhere to a rigorous HACCP food safety program, which is audited by Primus. Our facility is also USDA GAP certified.
How this project was developed: The Chopped Produce Initiative emerged from collaboration between Working Landscapes and an array of local partners, including local farmers, 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.
Praise for the Chopped Produce Initiative:
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
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, former Child Nutrition Director, Warren County Schools (now Brunswick County Child Nutrition Director)
To order fresh, local produce through the Chopped Produce Initiative, contact: