Back to School : Making Change with Produce that Makes the Grade

It’s Back to School time! Even as we get busier and the days get shorter, it’s the perfect time of year to use the routine shake-up to set some new healthy habits. Especially if we’re actually making our way back into the classroom.

We caught up with Karen Heinrich from the Office of Health Services at Baltimore County Public Schools to talk about how she’s using impact-driven produce from Hungry Harvest to build healthy eating habits into her school year day to day. 

In September 2016, Hungry Harvest kicked off a partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools to provide access to healthy, convenient produce delivery to BCPS faculty and further our shared mission of ending food waste and hunger locally. Since then, over 500 teachers, administrators and BCPS staff members have received weekly delivery of produce from Hungry Harvest. Those deliveries had huge impact - 64,000 pounds of produce were rescued from going uneaten and 16,000 pounds of produce were donated locally to hunger-solving organizations. 

And it all started with a conversation with wellness coordinators like Karen Heinrich in the Office of Health Services for BCPS. 

Karen was one of the first BCPS staff to join the Hungry Harvest partnership, drawn in by our mission to cut down on food waste and to donate to local communities living in food insecurity throughout the BCPS area. She loved the way rescued produce reduced her environmental footprint. But what started as an impact-driven choice to make change in the community eventually made change in her kitchen as well. The variety she received in her weekly harvests challenged her to always make new dishes and explore new recipes. This was not only a great way to get more healthy fruits and veggies in her day to day meal planning, but also created some great moments with her family:

“Last Thanksgiving, I only used Hungry Harvest produce and it spawned a bunch of new dishes … I loved the idea, especially for Thanksgiving, that we were blessed with this food that would have been wasted and that it helped ensure other people in need were able to eat well too.”

She even gave some veggies she’d always avoided a second chance - like sweet potatoes with salt, pepper and brown sugar as well as collard greens with a dash of family tradition.

“I’d never had collard greens … My grandmother was from the South and talked about them all the time - when i got them in my box, I made a recipe with the greens and mushrooms … it was delicious. My daughter loved bringing back some family history!”

Delivery right to her door (or to school for some of her coworkers) made digging back into family recipes and experimenting in the kitchen possible, even in the craziest moments throughout the school year when she was often at her busiest. We’re inspired by Karen’s ability to build adventurous new habits in the midst of the crazy and we’re looking forward to another great year of falling back into the groove just like her. 

Looking for recipes to help put your weekly harvest to work during back to school? Check out our Recipe Page or join our Facebook Recipe Club. You can also check out some inspiring Fall fuel lunch prep in our #NoWasteBagLunch photo contest on Instagram. Got some great pics of your own healthy bag lunch? Post it to Instagram with hashtag #NoWasteBagLunch by 9/27 for a chance to win some prizes (and inspire others!)


Stacy Carroll1 Comment