Phil Muir is the President and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms, a distributor of fresh produce and specialty foods to foodservice customers in Utah and Wyoming. His firm currently supplies 22 school districts in Utah and is also the Department of Defense (DoD) fresh program supplier for Utah and western Wyoming. Phil took some time to tell us about his commitment to ensuring kids have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Why do you serve on the Board of Trustees for the United Fresh Start Foundation?
I serve because it is one of the only industry opportunities to truly make a difference in the lives of so many of America’s children. Too often, industry service is somewhat self-serving for one’s own business or the industry in general, but through the foundation I know I am participating in something far greater than just our industry. We are changing lives one bite at a time!
What are you most passionate about when it comes to kids and nutrition?
As I see the impact the foundation’s activities have had in the lives of so many school children, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, I become passionate about doing more. We truly are making a difference in children’s lives through good nutrition that will last a lifetime.
Why is access to fresh fruits and vegetables a critical component to ensure kids are growing up fresh?
There are so many snack choices available for kids that are convenient and cleverly packaged, but typically are high in calories and low in nutrition. We need to continue to push to have fresh fruit and vegetable choices available wherever children are. In the absence of fresh fruit and vegetable options, the continued spiral of obesity, poor nutrition choices, and associated life-long diseases can occur.
Can you share a personal story of how you’ve experienced the work of the United Fresh Start Foundation?
I have personally been thanked by numerous parents and school nutrition workers who have recognized the difference the efforts of the United Fresh Start Foundation has made in the lives of the children they serve. They’ve seen first hand the work of our Foundation through the placement of salad bars, advocating for the fresh fruit and vegetable snack program, and before and after school programs. This is especially the case in food desert areas where children’s choices outside of school are either very limited or non-existent. My company services many rural schools that are far from any convenient retail store that has fresh fruit and vegetables available. The exposure they have in school through our efforts is the only chance they have to consume fresh fruit and vegetables and to learn more about good nutrition.
If you could encourage an industry peer to take one action with the United Fresh Start Foundation this year, what would that be?
I encourage anyone in the industry to donate to the general foundation fund to help support our on-going efforts. We have just scratched the surface, but we are indeed making such a difference. This effort cannot continue to succeed without the funds to allow us to cast a much wider net. We know the demand is there, we just need the funds to get there!
What excites you most about the future of the United Fresh Start Foundation?
The future of the United Fresh Start Foundation is extremely bright! We have demonstrated demand for our community access grants which tells us the time is right to continue with our education and access efforts to change the eating habits of America’s children. This will pay big dividends for our children and for our fresh fruit and vegetable industry in increased consumption. This is our time to shine!