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Executive Chef Glenn Brunetti Highlights Chartwells School Dining Services Produce Initiatives at the Annual New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference and Trade Show


December 22, 2011 - Rye Brook, NY

At the annual New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show, which took place December 13 through 15 in Manchester, NH, Chartwells Executive Chef Brunetti was invited to be part of the "Growth and Opportunities in Farms to Institutions in New England" session to share his experiences regarding Chartwells involvement and their continuing initiatives to serve local fruits and vegetables in school lunch.

Chef Brunetti's main message was simple. "Demand outweighs supply at this time, and Chartwells is very motivated to expand to deliver on that demand," said Brunetti, an executive chef with Chartwells School Dining Services' Northeast Region. Chartwells' dedication to meet the local produce demand is evident in their local produce purchasing. In 2010, Chartwells purchased just over $1MM in local produce. In 2011, they more than doubled that amount by spending just over $3MM.

The conference occurs once every two years and is known as the biggest and best educational event for commercial growers of fruits and vegetables in New England. This year's conference featured more than 25 educational sessions covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crop topics, as well as special sessions on topics like soil health and estate planning.

Also assisting in the panel discussion with Brunetti was John Waite, Executive Director of the Franklin County Community Development Corp (FCCDC), which has been working with Chartwells to process local flash frozen vegetables in schools that Chartwells serves. The program, known as Fresh/Frozen Produce Program, came about because the majority of the Northeast's local produce is grown during months when school is not in session.

The value of the Fresh/Frozen Produce Program is that it retains processing and sales in the Northeast, cuts down considerably on "food miles," and ensures that school menus include local products all year round. In the Northeast, Chartwells has been able to bring 17,200 pounds of locally grown flash frozen vegetables into schools this year to date, and has the ability to utilize significantly more if time and supply allow.

"Serving local produce on our menus puts a local 'face' on our region's rich agricultural economy and educates the community about the important role agriculture plays in our region," said Chef Brunetti. "The Northeast region has incredible potential to supply our schools with great quality produce but it became obvious that we needed to improve our season extension strategies by finding a partner capable of processing (flash freezing) local produce in high season for year-round use."

"Since Chartwells' piloted this approach five years ago, it continues to grow and our student customers truly enjoy it," said Eric A. Pimental, Regional Vice President for Chartwells' Northeast Region. "We are proud of the partnerships we have forged with the local farm community and, although it started as a New England-specific concept, we are excited to see how this concept has grown and evolved nationally."

About Chartwells School Dining Services
Chartwells, a division of Charlotte, NC-based Compass Group provides dining services for over 550 public school districts and private schools, comprising over 6,000 separate elementary, middle and high schools nationwide. For more information about Chartwells School Dining Services, visit www.eatlearnlive.com.

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Ayde Lyons
Chartwells School Dining Services
Phone: 914-935-5320
Email: Email Contact

MarketWire

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