We were recently featured on a front page story in the Merced Sun Star for our deliveries of our new Perfect Summer Sweet Peppers to local schools. You might wonder why a delivery from a local farm to a local school makes the front page of a daily newspaper? Could it be, that the days of burgers, pizza, and other high calorie meals for school lunches are being replaced by healthy eating? Fact is, more fresh produce is being incorporated into lunch menus and there’s a rise in the number of school salad bars. And, that should be welcoming news to all of us.
The obesity rate in children has tripled over the past 30 years. While that’s alarming, we’re also learning that when children are given the chance to try something new and flavorful, they’d try a fruit or vegetable that they’d otherwise not try. There’s a great deal of goodness in fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re good for you – there’s fiber, few calories, they’re rich in vitamins and minerals. Finally, if you eat plenty, those fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of many diseases. So, it’s all good, right? Yes, but there’s also the need to deliver on taste. Our Perfect Summer sweet peppers are bold red and bright yellow, and yes, they are sweet and have a great crunch.
Our search for these peppers began years ago. To be honest, we hadn’t even thought about the schools being a customer at the time. But times have changed. As schools add more fresh and locally grown produce, there’s also the challenge of logistics, to ensure that the schools receive the freshest and most flavorful of Live Oak’s summer harvest. As noted in the Merced Sun Star article, what were peppers in the field on Monday were in wraps on their menu of Merced High Schools that Wednesday. That was a tremendous effort of our crews in the field and the packinghouse, the distributor – Ag Link, and the Merced Schools, to deliver a perfectly ripe and sweet pepper in the size and color needed for their new wrap menu.
At Live Oak Farms, we’ve been deeply rooted in Merced County for over 85 years. Our fresh tomatoes and peppers are featured at restaurants and supermarkets throughout North America, and also in our schools that just happen to be just a few miles from our fields. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to help our local schools create a little lunch-time excitement with our sweet peppers. As the schools expand their locally grown fresh produce focused menus, we’ll be looking for ways to better meet their needs and that of their students, who like many of us, are focused on healthier eating.