Promoting locally grown and produced products has been a goal for Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District for many years. When the Texas Department of Agriculture announced its Local Products Challenge during National School Lunch Week 2013, October 14-18, Harlingen CISD eagerly accepted the challenge and began editing menus to accommodate more Texas products during the special week.
Located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is uniquely situated to capitalize on the area's wealth of agricultural production. Star fruit from River's End Nursery in Bayview was literally the "shining star" of National School Lunch Week at HCISD. A special relationship with River's End was cultivated through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and expanded to meet the Local Products Challenge. Each of the district's 18,000 students was introduced to the Texas star fruit as a garnish atop fresh strawberries and grapes.
Texas citrus is grown throughout the Rio Grande Valley, making serving up fresh oranges and grapefruit a breeze. Each day during National School Lunch Week, all 27 of the district's cafeterias served Texas oranges grown just 45 minutes from their back doors and HCISD is proud to announce that the first Texas grapefruit harvest for the season went straight from the grove to Harlingen cafeterias on October 16.
To round out the "Texas-Size Taste Tour" Harlingen CISD served milk from El Paso, tortillas from Edinburg, tortilla chips and taco shells from Dallas, and watermelon from Brownfield. Each campus read announcements and displayed posters provided by TDA. Elementary students participating in school lunch were given promotional items such as bookmarks, pencils, "Health Nut Glasses," and magnetic picture frames.
All the excitement surrounding the "Texas-Size Taste Tour" at Harlingen CISD was captured on the district's Facebook page. Each day a different TDA designed graphic was displayed and the Texas products served that day were highlighted.
The Local Products Challenge proved to be just that for Harlingen CISD. When produce was delivered to each school on the Friday prior to National School Lunch Week, the Harlingen CISD child nutrition administration quickly realized that the Texas menu items planned were not delivered due to availability and seasonality. The department quickly called on partners Nicho Produce and River's End Nursery and they were able to scramble for alternate Texas grown produce. The result was the first grapefruit harvest of the season was delivered to HCISD. The dedication to the Local Products Challenge created a positive buzz around the district and community and has encouraged HCISD to continue serving Texas produce and products.
Photo: Harlingen CISD served locally grown star fruit and citrus with strawberries and grapes during National School Lunch Week.
Posted October 30, 2013