In quest to put more local foods in school cafeterias, district treads new ground

Denver district hopes to become a food hub; starts by taking produce others wouldn't accept.

DENVER—Last fall, Denver Public Schools had a zucchini problem.

The district’s school farms had produced a bumper crop of the vegetable, some of which had been damaged by hail. Administrators couldn’t use it all as a fresh ingredient in school meals, but they didn’t want it to go to waste either. That’s when they turned to their northern neighbor, Weld County School District 6, for help.

Under the leadership of Nutrition Service Director Jeremy West, the Weld 6 team  grated and packaged 445 pounds of the product, most of which was returned to Denver for later use in zucchini muffins. Those muffins were served to DPS students one day in February.

“It’s great having that kind of partnership,” said Anne Wilson, the Farm to School coordinator for DPS. “Had he not been able to process it, we might not have been able to use it.”

Grating zucchini for students in another community may sound like an odd project for a school district, but it fits perfectly into West’s ambitious plans to turn the district into a food hub that will help put more locally-grown foods on the plates of Weld 6 students as well as those in other districts.

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