Farm To Cafeteria: Union Public Schools Buys Produce For Lunch From Local Farmers


Wednesday, August 31st 2022, 6:28 pm



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Students eating lunch at Union Public Schools are getting fruits, veggies and beef from local farms and ranches.

The farm-to-cafeteria model keeps the menu fresh.

At Roy Clark Elementary on Wednesday, kids were chowing down on an end-of-summer treat: corn on the cob.

The cafeteria staff prepares the corn after it makes the short 45 minute trip from down the road in Porter, at Livesay Orchards.

Cantaloupe is on the menu too. Soon, even more produce will be ready.

“These are purple hull peas. And you can see they're still immature, but I don't think it'll be long before those are ready,” Kent Livesay said.

In addition to corn, cantaloupe and peaches, Livesay is growing watermelon and apples that could be an option for the district to buy.

"It's nice to see children getting fresh food from our farm,” he said.

This is the second school year Livesay Orchards has worked with Union, but it's the district's 15th year buying food from local farms.

Union said it buys blueberries and asparagus from Thunderbird Farm in Broken Arrow.

The district turns to Joe’s Farm in Bixby for blackberries, Bok choy, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radishes, carrots, sugar snap peas and more.

Lettuce and tomatoes are grown year-round by Greener Grounds in Sand Springs.

Acadian Family Farm in central Oklahoma provides potatoes.

And beef is no mystery meat -- the district buys it from Native Acres Ranch in Okarche.

"That's about $300,000 going into our economy, staying here in Oklahoma, and feeding our kids really good, quality food,” Union Child Nutrition Director Lisa Griffin said.

Griffin said she grew up on a farm, and is happy to put in the extra work it takes to coordinate with farmers, and have a flexible menu based on what's available each week.

She said four out of five days a week, students are provided with something fresh from a local farm.

"I love feeding these kids nutritious foods and I know it makes them feel better, and perform better in school,” she said.  

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