250,000 apples from Sentinel Orchard
Sentinel Orchard is just one of the many orchards located in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York where the Abbey Group purchases apples to distribute directly to our school cafeterias. Apples are the fruit of choice for the thousands of students we prepare meals for every day, and we take pride in our efforts to make this fresh, healthy, and local option available in our schools. In the 2009-2010 school year, we purchased over 250,000 apples from Sentinel Orchards alone. Our students love these orchard-fresh treats and by buying direct from our neighbors we were able to pass on the 30% savings to our school meal programs. This is truly what Dishing Up Local is all about.
In true Abbey Group fashion, our Dishing Up Local program makes business personal, and it is a pleasure to see the ties between farming and school communities evolve.
As the program expands, we continue to see an appreciation for these relationships. Take, for example, Wayne "Skip" Cooke, the Principal of Fair Haven Elementary School in Vermont. Skip worked at Sentinel Orchard while growing up in an adjoining town, and he knows first-hand the effort that goes into the harvesting and distribution of fresh apples. He appreciates the nutritional benefits the students at Fair Haven receive from this local connection, not to mention the superior taste. As the food service provider for Fair Haven, the Abbey Group can proudly supply apples from Sentinel Orchards throughout the school year.
We can provide a direct connection to local farms within your community. Cafeterias managed by The Abbey Group are able to serve a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruit. This is a notable boost for local economies. Our agreements with local growers provide access to markets that were not previously available to them. These special relationships enable 'farmers markets' in school cafeterias and our meals deliver the enhanced nutrition that only comes from farm fresh produce. What a great way to showcase the bounty produced by local farms, often linking proud children, grandchildren and other relatives in the school community to the place they call home.
Our farm-to-school efforts continue to expand. What started with our first direct apple purchase has blossomed into processing and freezing zucchini, squash, and basil for use during the winter months. We've tucked beets into cakes and encouraged our students to try kale "chips". Abbey kitchens have learned how to incorporate all kinds of vegetables not usually found on school menus. Local root vegetables like parsnips and purple topped turnips are prepared into delicious, kid friendly meals. Our cooks, like all of us at the Abbey Group, are eager to broaden the tastes of the students we love to serve and give our support to farms growing food close to home.