Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is Michigan’s fourth-largest public school district, serving more than 17,000 students. GRPS’ Nutrition Services1 serves approximately 25,000 meals a day with 86 percent of students being eligible for free lunch. About 36 percent of the student body is African American, 33 percent Hispanic/Latino, 22 percent Caucasian, and six percent are multi-racial. Through its central commissary, Grand Rapids School District also manages food services for the East Grand Rapids Public Schools, four parochial schools and six charter schools.
The district has an extensive Farm to School program. GRPS has teamed up with Pearson Foods,2 a Grand Rapids-based processor and distributor of fresh-cut produce, to offer students a wide variety of regionally-grown fruits and vegetables in season. Amy Klinkoski, Nutrition Service Coordinator for Grand Rapids Public Schools,3 has found that locally grown produce tends to be of higher quality and competitively priced relative to alternatives when she factors in labor costs. GRPS’ Farm to School program also extends into the classroom, where teachers and community volunteers offer nutrition education and taste-testing and nudge students to try unfamiliar foods.