Ashland Cafeterias will Feature Locally Sourced Food!
Ashland School District students will start the new school year with delicious, org
anic, locally grown peaches from Valley View Orchard, thanks to the new district Interim Nutrition Services Supervisor Christina Lehman.
Ashland School District was awarded over $10,000 by the Oregon Department of Education in 2017 to purchase Oregon grown and produced food, but ended up only spending $250. Under the leadership of the new nutrition services director Christina Lehman, things are changing, with cases of locally grown fruit arriving every week, and more fruits and vegetables on the way.
"We are thrilled to see Ashland School District working with local producers like Valley View Orchard, Fry Family Farm, Naumes and others," Rogue Valley Farm to School Executive Director Sheila Carder said. "It has been clear that is what Ashland parents want to see served to their children. Having a nutrition director who is committed like Christina Lehman is a game changer."
Rogue Valley Farm to School is a local nonprofit dedicated to connecting local schools to local farms to improve the quality food served in school meals and to educating children
about the food system, gardening and nutrition. Their partnership with Walker Elementary School is in its third year, supported by the PTO, City of Ashland, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District and originally launched with support from Jackson Care Connect. Rogue Valley Farm to School has been working with the entire district for nearly a decade, providing Tasting Tables, Farm Field Trips and other programs to connect children to healthier food and local farms.
Under the new leadership of Christina Lehman, Ashland School District is purchasing cases of organic peaches every week from Valley View Orchard. This will change to apples and pears when the crops are ready. Valley View Orchard is one of three GAP certified producers in the valley selling to schools, including Fry Family Farm and Naumes. Both Fry Family Farm and Valley View are also certified organic. According to Lehman, she intends to serve students locally produced beef as well and is looking at other ways to increase the quality of food served in school meals.
"Very few children are eating in our cafeterias," said Lehman. "My goal is to double student participation this year so we don't lose the program." Sourcing locally, providing fresh produce and local beef is a way of increasing student
participation, according to Lehman.
"What we see in other schools is that when children are given healthy, fresh delicious lunches, they are better able to focus and learn," said Carder. "We are happy for the opportunity to partner with Ashland School District in meeting their goals to improve school lunches and increase student participation. When done well, a thriving school lunch program can ensure all children receive healthy, fresh lunches. Sourcing locally is an important step in providing that for the children and families of Ashland. Encouraging more students and parents to participate in the program is also critical. It's a trust building exercise -- the district needs the parents to create a thriving lunch program, and the parents need the district to provide the healthy, nourishing lunches they want their children eating. Christina is helping to make that happen."
Sheila Foster Carder
Rogue Valley Farm to School
P.O. Box 898
Ashland, OR 97520