Pasadena ISD Child Nutrition honored as Best of Bunch award winner

Pasadena ISD Child Nutrition honored as Best of Bunch award winner
Posted on 05/04/2017
Pasadena ISD Child Nutrition honored as Best of Bunch award winner

Pasadena ISD Child Nutrition Department wins Best of Brunch.
The Pasadena ISD Child Nutrition Department has been recognized by the Texas Department of Agriculture and Commissioner Sid Miller as the 2016 Best of Bunch award recipient. Accepting the award on behalf of Child Nutrition is Jodie DeFrancesco, nutrition coordinator, and Mary Harryman, director of child nutrition.

By Reesha Brown

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) recently honored Pasadena ISD’s Child Nutrition Department as the 2016 Best of the Bunch award recipient for the third consecutive year.

The department earned the recognition from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller for successfully incorporating Texas-grown ingredients into school meals in the 2016 Local Products Challenge. Only 77 participating school districts earned the distinction.

“We are excited to be recognized again for bringing locally grown and nutritious options to our students,” said Jodie DeFrancesco, nutrition coordinator. “This is a great opportunity to highlight the fresh fruits and vegetables we serve thanks to our local farms.” 

Throughout the school year, Child Nutrition incorporated activities and decorations into elementary and middle school cafeterias to teach students about the importance of homegrown produce, each month focusing on a different fruit or vegetable.

In November, for example, the department offered locally grown sweet potatoes for students. For the month of April, citrus tomatoes were incorporated into school lunches across the district. Students also received take-home items including stickers, trading cards and bookmarks with information about fruits and vegetables grown in Texas.

“We use these opportunities to teach students and their families that locally purchased produce helps support the economy, businesses and provides them with fresher products that are in season,” DeFrancesco said.

The Local Products Challenge encourages school districts to incorporate homegrown products into school meals and teach children about the healthy foods produced in the Lone Star State.

As an on-going effort to facilitate the availability of locally grown food products in all Texas schools, the TDA created the Local Products Challenge which provides participating schools with access to various resources that strengthen connections with local agriculture producers.

According to the TDA, for every $1 spent on local food, this generates $2.16 of economic activity.

The event has grown each year, from 37 participants during the inaugural challenge in 2013 to more than 140 in 2016. These numbers reveal that Texas students are enjoying more local products in school meals year-round.

“Teaching children about healthy lifestyles and the importance of agriculture by introducing them to nutritious, Texas-grown foods is a top priority at TDA,” Miller said. “When our school nutrition partners accepted our Local Products Challenge, they strengthened Texas agriculture and demonstrated their commitment to developing good nutritional habits for the young Texans they serve and their local communities.”