Tom Freitas, Food Service Director for Traverse City Area Public Schools, said that with the extra 10 cents a meal* he’s been able to try new things like kale, multicolored carrots, and Romanesco, a lime green cauliflower that kids call “spaceships” or “Christmas trees.”
Instead of taking just the required half-cup of vegetables in the salad bar, Freitas said, students in his highest free and reduced-price lunch school are taking three times that.
“And they eat it all,” he said. “I am so proud of these kids.”
One of the big benefits of the extra 10 cents is that it reinforces for farmers and distributors that the school market for Michigan produce is a serious market that isn’t going to go away, he said. As a result, they are planning for, growing, processing, and sourcing products that schools can use.
“You can imagine how much produce is going to be purchased in Michigan by all those schools when we get 10 cents across the board for all schools,” he said.
“It is nice to have a government program that ensures that a school has to double the investment in Michigan produce in order to receive their reimbursement. Not many grants pay back the state like that." -Tom Freitas, Food Service Director for Traverse City Area Public Schools
*Michigan’s 10 Cents A Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms is a successful state pilot that provides schools with up to 10 cents a meal in match funding to purchase and serve Michigan-grown fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Originally a $250,000 state pilot in prosperity regions 2 and 4, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder expanded 10 Cents A Meal for the 2017-2018 school year to also include prosperity region 9 with an increased budget of $375,000. The is one in a series of stories documenting 10 Cents A Meal for Michigan's Kids & Farms.