By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Atlanta Public Schools recently received the 2016 United Fresh Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award. Held June 20-22 in Chicago, the awards ceremony was held during the United Fresh 2016 convention and trade show. The winning categories included business in industry; casual and family dining restaurants; colleges and universities; fine dining; hotels and healthcare; K-12 food service; and quick-service restaurants.
APS Nutrition Director Dr. Marilyn Hughes accepted the award on the district’s behalf, and was joined by seven of the country’s most exciting chefs and food service professionals representing various culinary styles and backgrounds.
Now in its ninth year, the United Fresh awards program pays special tribute to chefs and food service operations for excellence in the use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. The APS Nutrition Department was recognized for concept development and menu design using fresh produce and incorporating culinary trends; knowledge of food safety and handling skills; and the Farm to School Program, which promotes produce-related events to educate students on fun ways to live and lead healthy lifestyles.
Dr. Hughes was honored to receive the award on behalf of students served in APS schools every day.
“The students are the real winners, because they are learning, both in the cafeteria and classroom, the importance of fruits and vegetables to their health,” she said. “Also, the award represents the importance the district has placed with offering fresh produce through the APS Salad Bowl. This initiative provides fresh fruits and vegetables each day in all school cafeterias as part of the lesson plans for classrooms in 36 elementary schools.”
Winners were selected from more than 120 nominations submitted by produce companies and food service operations across North America. A panel of produce and food service industry leaders reviewed each nominee’s incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of food safety protocols for proper storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce related community service, and special events and recognition by their company and industry peers.
This year’s winners were featured in a panel discussion on the United Fresh 2016 trade show floor in the Fresh Marketplace Learning Center.