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Chartwells Plays to the Trends in 2012

RYE BROOK, NY (February 2, 2012)—Chartwells’ Simply Good Fresh and Local program has experienced tremendous success in its schools with 89% of 534 districts surveyed indicating increased customer satisfaction and added value to their operations.

Local foods and healthful kids’ meals are front of mind with Chartwells School Dining Services, which provides dining services for over 550 school districts nationwide. In 2011, they purchased $3.17 million in local foods; up from $1.04 million in 2010.

The following are a few examples of how Chartwells School Dining centers nationwide are promoting local foods:

  • In the Northeast states like Connecticut, NY and MA, Chartwells processes local flash frozen vegetables in schools as part of their Fresh/Frozen Produce Program. The majority of the Northeast’s local produce is grown during months when school is not in session. The Fresh/Frozen program retains processing and sales in the Northeast, cuts down considerably on "food miles," and ensures that school menus include local products all year round. Chartwells has been able to bring 17,200 pounds of locally grown flash frozen vegetables into schools this year. 
  • Students harvest their own vegetables such as radishes, bell peppers, onions and asparagus in a three-acre Sow Healthy Garden at Freiheit Elementary and Goodwin Frazier Elementary schools in New Braunfels, TX. The garden was built thanks to help from Comal ISD, the wellness company Resolute Health, many local master gardeners and a number of senior citizen volunteers. The Garden has already earned an Award for Excellence in Texas School Health. Students will also learn about composting and aquaponics methods to fertilize the plants. The hope is to eventually make the area a fully sustainable organic farm complete with chickens and milking cows.
  • At Salinas City School District in California, schools run a “Sample of the Season” program, in which a fresh local vegetable or fruit is featured, with information on where it is grown and its nutritional value. Chartwells has partnered with local vendors in California to provide “Farmers Market” days to students scheduled for next year. Salinas, also known as the Salad Bowl Capital of the World, collaborates with thirty of the top produce companies which operate within a few blocks of their schools.
  • Chartwells schools in Washington State participated in “Taste Washington Day,” in association with the state’s Farm to School Program, in order to promote and support school nutrition programs and farms. Schools featured local produce on their menus and connected with local farmers to promote this successful statewide event.
  • East Bay School District in Rhode Island has been part of a corporate pilot local produce program since 2006. As of spring 2007, all 12 Chartwells Rhode Island school districts were part of the local produce program, encompassing 98 schools and a student population of 47,000. The schools have access to locally grown produce such as apples, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes and corn, when in season.
  • Also in Rhode Island, Bristol Warren Regional Schools have participated in the Simply Good campaign by utilizing local produce on all school menus. In November, associates prepared a Harvest meal featuring locally grown potatoes, apples and butternut squash. All schools participated in the Harvest meal, buffet style, at the elementary school. As a focus on "Get your Plate in Shape,” associates will conduct classroom presentations, food focus, “snack attacks” and other menus items, featuring MyPlate posters in all cafeterias. Chartwells will also be actively participating in Bristol Warren's upcoming “Wellness Week.”

Chartwells partners with farms nationwide to source local produce. Their philosophy in supporting local farmers will allow farms to continue to thrive in local communities, and that future generations of students will have access to nourishing and flavorful fruits and vegetables. Chartwells school dining centers regularly feature local menu offerings, conduct chef's demonstrations and give out local food samples during the local harvest season.

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