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Hulk Smoothies: Powering Students and the Local Food System

ValleyHUB works with South Haven Public Schools to remove barriers to sourcing local produce!

Hulk Smoothies: Powering Students and the Local Food System

ValleyHUB's mission is to get more local food on more local plates- and in local cups, and in local bellies. We love working with enthusiastic partners to do it, like our new collaborators at South Haven Public Schools.

"They really lit up when hearing about where the peaches and spinach came from," said Josh Conrad, Food Service Director for South Haven Public Schools. On May 3rd, ValleyHUB’s Outreach and Communications Coordinator Josh Bartz and food service consultant Chef Glenn Noffsinger had the opportunity to visit with the food service team from South Haven Public Schools. They were there to train the team on new immersion blenders that they recently acquired, using a new recipe for “Hulk Smoothies”.

The recipe's design was simple - incorporating locally sourced items into a tasty recipe that meets the School Nutrition Standards. Glenn’s 'Hulk Smoothies' combined fresh, local spinach (from Crisp Country Acres in Holland, MI) and peach wedges (from Molter Produce in Benton Harbor, MI, processed and frozen by ValleyHUB) with familiar ingredients, like yogurt. Glenn was enthusiastic: “ValleyHUB is dedicated to serving fun local food in our schools for the health of our children, economy, and the environment!” He continued, “Through my years of experience as a chef in schools, engaging students with fun local food is always a great way to see their smiles and learn with our schools.”

SH Demo 1

Josh Conrad said, "My team had a lot of fun doing the training with Glenn. They all commented about how much they liked it and would like to have more training sessions like this!" Also in attendance was Chris Flood, Health Education Supervisor with the Bronson Wellness Center. She commented, "Bronson's Community Health department is passionate about helping families achieve best health. We love partnering with South Haven Public Schools and the Kalamazoo Valley Food Hub on fruit and veggie Try it Days! The Hulk smoothie, made with locally grown spinach and peaches, was delicious! Through our partnership, our nutrition education team is able to work closely with the SHPS school food service team and ValleyHUB to link what students are learning in the classroom, to what they're tasting in the school cafeteria. I can't wait to see what's offered on the next Try it Day!"

SH Demo

This is the dream! Michigan farmers and food makers, growing and making incredible and varied produce, meats, dairy, and products; connecting to schools, hospitals, early care and education centers; students (of all ages) trying new flavors and textures; and learning more about nutrition and the food system that made it possible. This 9oz cup of neon green liquid may seem insignificant, but the Hulk Smoothie represents, as ValleyHUB’s Manager Rosie Florian would say, “a gentle disruption to the system”.

 

So how is ValleyHUB getting more local foods on more local plates? By making the best choice, the easy choice! We are reducing barriers to accessing high-quality, fresh, and delicious produce in a fun and engaging way. We hope this is the first of many training sessions with the twenty-three school districts currently sourcing through ValleyHUB.

We would be remiss if we ended this blog without giving you a chance to try your very own ‘Hulk Smoothie’. When drinking it, pause for a moment and reflect on the incredible system of people doing awe-inspiring work that made it possible.

 


May 16, 2023
By: Josh Bartz, Outreach & Communications Coordinator
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