Michigan public school students will enjoy Michigan-grown fruit starting this school year, thanks to a partnership with Cherry Capital Foods and Chartwells School Dining Services.

“This may be the largest farm-to-school project to date in the country,” said Kelly Lively, special projects and school liaison for Cherry Capital Foods. “We applaud Chartwells for their interest in local foods and dedication to nutritious food for Michigan students.”

What this means for Michigan students: starting the first day of school in September, they can enjoy fresh, local pears and peaches, while in season, and apples all year.

Cherry Capital Foods will gather, store and coordinate the transportation of apples from Leland to Lansing, some portions of the Upper Peninsula, and many school districts in between. Growers such as Friske Orchards in Antrim County to Gavin Orchards in Grand Rapids, along with dozens of farms throughout the state will provide this year’s apples to students. All varieties will be available throughout the state and the year, and in different sizes for different sized hands, Lively said.

Chartwells provides dining services to 144 districts within Michigan and serves 2.7 million students at approximately 550 public school districts and private schools nationwide, comprising over 6000 separate elementary, middle and high schools. Chartwells brings fresh ideas and innovative concepts to school dining services. The organization delivers customized solutions that benefit partners and students alike through innovative programs, such as this one, with a focus on carefully-planned and well-balanced meals that appeal to students.

“We are very pleased to partner with Cherry Capital Foods.” said Brain Casey, Chartwells regional vice president. “Through our partnership we’re able to provide fresh, local foods that are at the height of their nutritional value to the students of Michigan.”

Because supplies allow it this year, peaches and possibly pears will be available to kick off the school year, and apples will be available throughout the year. “This year has become the ‘Year of the Apple’. The apple crop is doing very well in Michigan,” Lively said. The public will see a lot of fanfare this year celebrating the abundant apple harvest, including Michigan’s Apple Crunch! , a statewide event hosted by Cherry Capital Foods, designed to encourage people of all ages all around the state to bite into an apple on October 24th. This is part of Food Day, a nationwide celebration -and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Peaches, pears and apples are a step in the right direction toward the big-picture goal to serve Michigan school-aged children with food of all types grown in Michigan, Lively added. “It just makes sense – nutritionally and economically,” she said.

For more information, contact Kelly Lively, special projects and school liaison at Cherry Capital Foods, (231) 943-5010, or visit cherrycapitalfoods.com.