Last week First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled new standards for school meals that included canned peaches as a part of the new and improved recommended menu aimed at boosting school nutrition for 32 million children. The new menu recommends a half cup of peaches packed in juice, which contain the same amount of sugar (14 grams) as peaches packed in extra light syrup.
“This is great news for California’s family growers and will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation,” said Sarb Johl, chairman of the California Cling Peach Board. “As growers we’ve always known that we produce a nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich fruit that kids love and is affordable for schools. Unfortunately, canned peaches, like all canned fruit, are often misrepresented in the media, so it is affirming to have this ringing endorsement by the First Lady who is such an advocate for childhood nutrition.”
In fact, the California Cling Peach Board (CCPB) is taking a more proactive approach in the marketing of their products, including funding research at the renown Oregon State University to analyze the nutritional benefits of canned peaches. “Our Board has reviewed the findings and they are terrific,” notes Johl who says the Board plans to launch a national nutrition campaign upon publication in the spring. “Our peaches are picked at their nutrition peak, packed within miles of the orchards, and are preserved within hours. Kids get all of the great taste of a California summer with just a dash of juice or natural sugar.”
Industry leader and Child Nutrition Services Director, Billy Reid of the Salida Union School District in California, knows the value of Cling Peaches. “Peaches are such a versatile fruit, they can be used so many ways, right out of the can (yummy!), in salads, cooked in cobblers and even mashed with the juice and frozen into peach ices (these are particularly great). Yet most importantly they taste terrific. Chock -full of nutrients and vitamins, they are the perfect school fruit,” says Reid. “My national award-winning district uses a lot of canned peaches and is already in compliance with the new regulations. I intend to continue my wide use of canned peaches and was very happy to see the First Lady endorse the use of peaches as a way of complying with the new meal standards. During a speech at the White House in October the First Lady quoted me as an industry leader. She was right then and she is right now: bottom line CA Cling Peaches make your menu better and kids love them, so use them!”
With all of the push for schools to increase fruit and vegetable servings and to incorporate more locally grown items, peach growers like Anthony Laney of Yuba City, California like to remind consumers that buying a can of California Cling Peaches is buying local. “In this global economy where we have third- and fourth-generation family farmers fighting against cheaper imports from China, buying a can of peaches from Whole Foods, WalMart or Safeway is buying local.”