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Taking “Mystery Meat” Out Of School Lunches
Mar 12th, 2009
by Dennis Newman.
From a busy kitchen in Northeast Salem, Evann Remington and her staff are trying to revolutionize what kids eat at school.
Goodbye, “mystery meat”. Say “hello” to organic, local, and sustainable.
It all started when Remington was looking for a daycare center for her young daughter. She wanted a place that served organic lunches and snacks. After not finding any, she started up Organic Fresh Fingers, a company that prepares meals from local, organic foods and delivers them to schools and daycare centers.
V.P. For Product Development Kurt Lucas preparing meals.
At first, Remington was head chef, delivery driver and chief bottle washer. Her customers were a mere handful of daycare facilities. Less than two years later she’s President and CEO of a business with 13 employees, serving up 20,000 organic meals a month, and expects to ring up sales of around $600,000.
Remington says the produce comes from a cooperative of organic farmers across Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. The cheese and milk comes from an organic dairy near Salem. For her, it’s not just a business but a mission to help build community supported agriculture.
Most of her 25 clients are private schools and daycares. Remington says demand from parents for better quality food is helping her business grow. These private facilities, she says, realize that by serving organic meals it sets them apart from the crowd.
Organic Fresh Fingers Frozen Meals
Getting her meals into public schools is a tougher sell. Portland Public Schools use a burrito filling from Organic Fresh Fingers about every three weeks. Kristy Obbink, Director of Nutrition Services for PPS says price is the main barrier to getting more organic food in school cafeterias. Obbink says Portland has about $1.15 to spend for every meal it serves. A meal from Organic Fresh Fingers can run as high as $2.68.
Not that any of this deters Remington. She hopes increased spending on school nutrition by the Obama Administration will help make organic lunches more affordable. There’s also a bill before the Oregon legislature for a new state subsidy to support school nutrition.
As for the students who eat the meals, Remington says it’s the right of all kids, “to have access to high quality, clean and nutritious food.”