Producing pride | SkyHiDailyNews.com

Producing pride

East Grand School District Prep Cook Jon Parker (left) and Sous Chef Gina Freimanis (right) were hard at work Monday morning Sept. 12 prepping vegetarian pizzas for students at the District’s Central Kitchen located in Middle Park High School in Granby. Parker, Freimanis and other food service employees of the EGSD are prepping for Colorado Proud Day on Sept. 14 when the school’s menu will exclusively feature Colorado grown produce.

East Grand School District Prep Cook Jon Parker (left) and Sous Chef Gina Freimanis (right) were hard at work Monday morning Sept. 12 prepping vegetarian pizzas for students at the District’s Central Kitchen located in Middle Park High School in Granby. Parker, Freimanis and other food service employees of the EGSD are prepping for Colorado Proud Day on Sept. 14 when the school’s menu will exclusively feature Colorado grown produce.

Today, Wednesday Sept. 14, is Colorado Proud Day for school districts throughout the state. Students from the East Grand School District (EGSD) will enjoy a taste of Colorado grown produce for their lunches today as EGSD Food Service Director Kristen McGuan and her staff make a menu featuring produce from throughout the state.

“We want to promote kids knowing where their food comes from,” said McGuan. “And to celebrate Colorado agriculture.” Colorado Proud Day is a statewide initiative that sees participation from many different school districts, though this is the first year the EGSD has participated.

The Food Service staff from the EGSD will be making chicken ceaser salad, roasted zucchini and squash and palisade peach parfait. The ceaser salad will feature both romaine and leaf lettuce from Rocco farms in Brighton, on the northeastern corner of the Denver metro area. The roasted zucchini and squash comes from DiSanti Farms near Pueblo in the southeastern portion of the state and the Palisade peach parfait features peaches directly from the Clark Family Orchard in the western reaches of the Colo. near Palisades. The chicken used in the ceaser salads is not necessarily from Colo.

McGuan was excited to feature relatively locally grown products and says she would like to work more closely with local agriculture to provide food items for students in East Grand, but noted the difficulty associated with such efforts. “I need to follow procurement guidelines,” she said.

Along with the lettuce, zucchini, squash and peaches that are being featured today in East Grand for lunch McGuan has access to other state grown produce as well including: cantaloupe, corn, cilantro and potatoes. McGuan can purchase Colorado grown produce from her standard food wholesale vendors, Shamrock Foods and Sysco Foods, at essentially the same price as other produce, assuming Colo. produce is in season and in stock.

The food distributors do not offer special “Colorado Proud Day” packages for schools districts; rather Food Service Directors must seek out the items themselves when ordering. McGuan said her distributors make the process fairly easy though by highlighting all the produce they offer that comes from Colo. farms. Colorado Proud Day is held in the fall each year, when Colorado produce is abundantly available.

The day is promoted by the Colorado Departments of Agriculture and Education and seeks to encourage healthy eating habits by stressing the importance of fruits and veggies. Dozens of schools in Colo., from tiny Pritchett in the southeast corner to the Mesa County Valley District in Grand Junction, participate in Colorado Proud Day.