Produce distributor Phil Muir of Muir Copper Canyon Farms told Senators that the produce industry is working with schools to serve more fruits and vegetables.
The Senate Agriculture Committee heard testimony Wednesday from the produce industry and school nutrition officials about providing more healthful meals to students.
United Fresh past Board member Phil Muir, President and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Salt Lake City, UT, pledged support and cooperation to schools as they serve more fresh fruits and vegetables in meals during a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday. Muir told lawmakers that his company provides fresh fruits and vegetables to 52 school districts in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, serving a total of 450,000 students, and that he is finding schools doing a great job of boosting fruit and vegetable consumption in their meal programs.
"The produce industry is committed and stands ready to support school food service directors in successfully implementing the new fruit and vegetable requirements," said Muir in his Senate testimony. "There are produce suppliers all over the country who are just as passionate and committed to supporting schools as I am. We all want to provide schools with great quality fresh produce and help student's increase their consumption."
Congress will be reauthorizing child nutrition programs in 2015. Today's Senate hearing explored how schools are meeting healthier nutrition standards as required by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. In his testimony, Muir illustrated how schools are successfully serving more fresh fruits and vegetables.
"Schools that were proactive in improving the healthfulness of school meals early on, made incremental changes, and offered nutrition education are not having problems or experiencing increased plate waste" said Muir. "The Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for children and adults to "make half their plate fruits and vegetables" at every meal. How can you call school breakfast or school lunch a 'meal' if it doesn't include at least a half cup of fruits or vegetables?"
Also testifying at the Senate hearing were Betti Wiggins, Executive Director, Office of Food Services, Detroit Public Schools; Scott Clements, Director, Office of Healthy Schools and Child Nutrition, Mississippi Department of Education; Julia Bauscher, President; Director of School and Community Nutrition Services, School Nutrition Association; Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville , KY; Katie Wilson, Executive Director, National Food Service Management Institute, University of Mississippi.
"Phil Muir shared his passion and commitment to working collaboratively with schools to implement the new fruit and vegetable requirements," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, vice president, nutrition & health, United Fresh. "His testimony also demonstrated the commitment of everyone in the fresh produce supply chain - grower shippers, fresh-cut processors and produce distributors - to helping schools be successful. We are all committed to increasing children's fruit and vegetable consumption and improving their health."
United continues to be a leading advocate for improving school children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of strategies, including more healthful standards for school meals, the Smart Snacks in School standard, the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program, and the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.
Additionally, Muir and other United Fresh members participated in United's first-ever "Ask the Experts: Produce Solutions Center" at the School Nutrition Association annual conference in Boston, July 13-16. The center brought produce industry veterans together with school nutrition directors from across the country for discussions about ways to provide a wide variety of high-quality produce items to students. United also presented two educational workshops at the conference to help school nutrition directors plan menus, understand seasonality and efficiently add more fresh produce to their schools' meals.
"My hat is off to those in the trenches who are implementing healthier school meals," said Muir at the hearing. "The produce industry is committed to helping you; we want to be your partner. This is about improving the health of America's children!"
Phil Muir's testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee is available here. For more information, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.