More Fruit And Veg In San Diego Schools

More Fruit And Veg In San Diego Schools

Tue 31 May 2011

Story by The Food Revolution Team

For twenty-three years, Gary Petill worked in the hotel industry. Eight years ago he joined San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Food Services with a mission to try and inspire a change in the life-long eating habits of the district’s children.

Growing up in a small, family-owned restaurant where all food was prepared from scratch, the importance of healthy eating habits were instilled in him from a young age and he is passionate that those values be taught to every child. “I continually shop at Whole Foods Market to get new ideas regarding healthy products and believe that all families should be exposed to this knowledge on a regular basis.”

Over the past eight years working with SDUSD, Gary has advocated for children to learn healthy eating habits. Students participating in the SDUSD schools’ breakfast program can no longer order chocolate milk as it has been eliminated from the menu in a move to reduce the amount of excessive, refined sugar consumed by children.

Central to Gary’s mission to improve students’ dietary habits has been an emphasis on providing more fruit and vegetables. Gary is proud to say that he and his team have implemented salad bars featuring local and organic produce in every K-12 school in the district.

In addition, they are committed to eliminating all heavily processed foods from the menu over the next three years. “We will continue promoting healthy eating habits using fresh produce and reducing the amount of pre-packaged foods,” says Gary.

As part of this move to provide more fresh fruit and vegetables, SDUSD have developed relationships with local farmers who have specifically harvested organic broccoli, spring mix, tomatoes, oranges, apples, strawberries and cilantro for their salad bars and entrees. This fresh veg is sometimes combined with commodity chicken in a variety of themed-bowl entrees, a perfect example of how to get the best from commodity foods. Gary’s team are currently in the process of issuing contract services for grass-fed beef hamburgers for the next school year.

San Diego Unified School District

Gary also works with Vanessa Zajfen, check out this article about SDUSD broccoli: Happy Rich Broccoli


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