Schools are legitimate volume foodservice buyers that collectively serve fresh produce to 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program each day. They are often the ‘largest restaurant in town,’ and through breakfast, lunch, snacks, and other child nutrition programs, school foodservice plays an important role in introducing fresh produce to children starting from an early age.
The United Fresh Start Foundation has consistently supported school foodservice as part of its mission to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Foundation fosters connections between school buyers and the produce industry at the School Foodservice Forum during the annual United Fresh convention, increases students’ access to healthy lunch options through our Salad Bars to Schools initiative, and now supports scholarships for K-12 school foodservice buyers to become members of United Fresh Produce Association, through a new school foodservice membership category.
As United Fresh members, School Districts/School Foodservice Authorities will be supported in their ability to source, serve and promote fresh produce for their meal and snack programs. The visibility of the school foodservice community will increase as they are welcomed into the United Fresh membership, building an even stronger network committed to collaboration and increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
“School districts of all sizes will benefit immensely from the School Foodservice membership, says Amanda Venezia, Director of Dining Services at the Londonderry School District in New Hampshire. “Learning about produce industry happenings and resources, as well as hearing from other school districts, of all shapes and sizes, about how they’re creatively sourcing and serving fresh fruits and vegetables to their students will be invaluable. The fresh produce industry can be a partner to all of us.”
In addition to collaboration opportunities with produce industry partners, K-12 School Districts that join membership will have access to the following benefits:
- Assistance identifying produce distributors and industry contacts by region, commodity, and industry segment.
- FreshFacts® on Retail and Fresh Insights for Foodservice – fresh produce trends research to help you plan and inspire your menus.
- United Fresh publications, webinars, white papers and other resources on food safety, operations, supply chain logistics, nutrition policy and more.
- Complimentary registration to the annual United Fresh Expo & Convention, and participation in the School Foodservice Forum.
“We are excited to have K-12 school foodservice administrators become more involved with United Fresh,” said Miriam Wolk, Vice President of Member Services, United Fresh Produce Association. “Offering industry resources on food safety, procurement, foodservice trends and other topics has proven of great value to the school foodservice community. We’re glad we can expand on that value and offer even more ways to connect with produce industry leaders through this new membership category.”
Through membership, the School Foodservice Director can designate additional contacts to access United Fresh resources. For those that wish to join, but need support for their inaugural membership, the United Fresh Start Foundation has established a scholarship fund to provide support for school districts in need. School districts interested in applying for a membership scholarship should contact Andrew Marshall, Director of Foodservice & Foundation Partnerships, United Fresh Produce Association, at 202-303-3407.
To join as a member, a School Foodservice Director can fill out the online membership form, and indicate “School Foodservice” as the primary business category.