JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Locally grown fruits and vegetables will be on the dinner menu for families who stop by Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) feeding sites this summer, according to school officials.
JCPS will be providing boxes filled with 11 pounds of fresh produce at more than 40 food distribution sites through July.
“We are proud to be able to provide fresh produce to our children” said Julia Bauscher, JCPS Executive Administrator of Nutrition Services. “This will provide additional nutritious options to support healthy lifestyles in our community.”
The vegetables and fruits in the produce boxes will vary from week to week depending on what is available from area farmers. JCPS is working with its fresh produce supplier, Louisville-based Creation Gardens, to gather the food, stock the boxes and deliver them to the food sites. The program will allow Creation Gardens to rehire more employees laid off in March when schools and restaurants closed and halted food orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our Creations Gardens family is excited to be involved in this important JCPS program” said Jim Bibb, Vice President of Operations. “Providing produce to families, jobs to our employees and an outlet for local farmers to sell their fruits and vegetables is a win for everyone.”
According to JCPS, thousands of produce boxes will be distributed at its food sites which have provided more than 1.2 million breakfasts and lunches to children since schools and cafeterias closed March 13.
Boxes are now available at 17 sites one day a week on a first-come first-serve basis. Beginning Monday, June 22nd distribution will expand to once per week at 40 drive thru locations.
Each box will also include a flier with easy recipes, fun facts about the food items and ways to involve children in the preparation or cooking.
Funding for the program comes from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to students at 38 JCPS schools. Because their cafeterias were closed for the final 10 weeks of the school year, $230,000 from the grant is unspent and being used to supply the boxes of yellow onions, zucchini, russet potatoes and other healthy foods to local families, according to JCPS.
Kentucky Department of Education Division Director Lauren Moore joined state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Miss America Kentucky’s Alex Francke on Wednesday to pass out food boxes.