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Know your farmer, know your food

Gayle Perez | The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

When local students sit down for lunch this coming school year, they’ll know they’re eating peaches from Palisade, watermelon from Rocky Ford or fresh vegetables from the St. Charles Mesa.

They’ll know because local farmers Justin DiSanti and Dominic DiSanti will be telling them so.

Actually, it will be life-sized cutout posters of the DiSanti brothers that will greet Pueblo City Schools (D60) and Pueblo County District 70 students as they enter the cafeteria to tell them what local or statewide food items are on their lunch trays each day.

“We’re going to be letting the students know that a lot of their produce is coming from Colorado farms,” said Dan Witt, supervisor of food service for District 70.

As part of a grant received by the Pueblo City-County Health Department, the nutrition services programs at D60 and District 70 are promoting the use of local and statewide produce as part of the national Farm to School program.

The Farm to School program focuses on using Colorado-grown produce in schools as a way to bring healthier food to students while supporting local economies.

The health department received a $12,000 grant ($6,000 per district) to promote the project locally.

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As part of the promotion, D60 and District 70 will be making a strong push toward letting students know when local items are being served and where they are grown.

“We brainstormed and came up with the idea to use two of our local farmers to tell students where their produce is coming from,” said Witt.

The life-sized posters of Justin and Dominic DiSanti come with a sign that will tell students what local products are on the lunch menu. The signs will be changed daily.

Jill Kidd, D60 director of nutrition services, said the district is using more local food items for its lunch program and wants students to know that.

“We wanted to tell kids when they eat these foods, where they come from,” she said. “As this program (Farm to School) grows in popularity, we want to start teaching our kids that the foods are coming from farms and not just the grocery store.”

Kidd said D60 does not buy directly from farmers but is part of a cooperative, which purchases fresh food from a local vendor.

The vendor notifies the district where the food items are grown.

As part of the promotion, Kidd said there will be a nutrition campaign to inform students not only where the food was grown but what nutrients the produce contains.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with the promotion, we hope now the kids will respond well to it.”

 

(c)2014 The Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, Colo.)

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