Wild Blueberry School Foodservice Strategy Already Bearing FruitMinnesota Jumps Aboard as National Foodservice Program is Launched
PORTLAND, MAINE — MARCH 1, 2017 — The Wild Blueberry School Foodservice Program, newly launched by the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, and boosted recently by a $50,000 state marketing grant, is already bearing fruit. Last month, for the very first time, Minnesota public schools joined Vermont, Maine, and 14 other states in offering Wild Blueberries through the USDA Commodity Food Program. In so doing, Minnesota became the nation’s first public school system to offer frozen Wild Blueberries to its 553 school districts in a new convenient 24-pound case, which includes eight (8) 3-pound bags. Previously, frozen Wild Blueberries were offered only in 30-pound bulk cases.
The packaging upgrade is designed to accommodate school kitchens by enabling small batch cooking and smoothie making, reducing the need for re-packing, and alleviating pressure on kitchens with limited freezer capacity. Armed with convenient packaging, The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine is actively targeting 36 U.S. states that have not added Wild Blueberries to their USDA Commodity Food lists. The effort is rolling out in conjunction with National School Breakfast Week, a weeklong celebration, from March 6-10, 2017, designed to raise awareness of School Breakfast Programs and to promote the connection between eating a good breakfast, academic achievement, and healthy lifestyles.
The campaign also coincides with favorable new USDA yield data establishing that one pound of frozen Wild Maine Blueberries provides 25% more servings than the same weight of frozen cultivated blueberries.
“Each day, nearly 15 million breakfasts and 30 million lunches are served in U.S. public schools,” said Nancy McBrady, executive director of The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. “As public schools work hard to nourish America’s children, Maine is making the case that Wild Blueberries – with their dense nutrition and delicious taste – can provide a dependable, kid-friendly solution.”
McBrady continued: “The new yield data lowers the cost per serving for schools, and the new packaging offers a convenient new option that should be highly attractive to schools in the commodity food program.” A robust school food service program will strengthen Maine’s Wild Blueberry industry, which has recently experienced larger-than-expected crops and fierce competition from the cultivated blueberry industry, she added.
New School Foodservice Website
The new food service sales and marketing initiative includes a new an easy-to-use website https://www.wildblueberries.com/schoolfoodservice that features tasty, kid-tested, school-sized recipes, as well as tools and how-to tips for a range of foods, such as:
- Wild Blueberry Smoothies
- Wild Blueberry Parfaits & Fruit Cups
- Wild Blueberry Crisp
- Wild Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
- Wild Blueberry Flatbread Pizza
- Wild Blueberry Sauce, Salads and Dressings
Ronald Adams, former food service director for the Portland Public Schools, praised the new Maine initiative. “School food service directors are charged with providing the highest value nutrition for the lowest cost,” he said. “The lower price per serving and the new online resource for recipes, means that school cafeterias can now incorporate a premium ‘super fruit’ into their menus with ease.”
McBrady concurred, “New yield data, new packaging, and easy-to-use school recipes provide a favorable incentive for public schools across the country to choose premium Maine Wild Blueberries for all of their blueberry needs.”
“Maine is a leader in the local food movement, but Maine’s Wild Blueberries have only scratched the surface of the significant opportunity available through public schools. Fortunately, we can now deliver more value to schools than ever before. Schools continue to make great strides to improve the nutritional content and acceptability of their menus and we believe Wild Blueberries can play a significant role in supporting this effort.”
About the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine
The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine was established to promote the ongoing prosperity of the Maine Wild Blueberry industry. It works on behalf of Maine’s 500+ growers and processers of Wild Blueberries in the areas of research and education, promotion, and policy. For more information visit wildblueberries.com.