The Farm-to-School movement is out to revolutionize the humble school lunch with food grown on local farms. But the path from cropland to cafeteria is full of complicated twists and turns. A new wave of federal funding is trying to smooth the way. It’s a hot, buggy morning, and Derrick Hoffman is poking around a densely packed row of bushy cherry tomato plants.
Behind him, rows of peppers, eggplant, kale, and broccoli are still soaking up the sun, while just a few country roads away, bok choy and butter lettuce sprout under hoop house protection.
But in the cherry tomato patch, it’s already harvest season. Hoffman and a handful of farm hands are choosing tomatoes to pick – the ones already deepened to the just-right shade of red. “Or light orange,” Hoffman concedes. “Because once you put a red one with an orange one, they all turn red.”
Hoffman doesn’t want them all to turn red too quickly because once these tomatoes leave his 100-acre farm on the outskirts of Greeley, Colorado, they have to fit with the lunch service schedule at a local public school. “These will go to Greeley Evans School District here just down the road,” he explains. “We’re five miles from their warehouse.” In about a week, kids will be snacking on them in nearby school cafeterias.
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