Young Tracks launches local food program | SteamboatToday.com

Young Tracks launches local food program

Teresa Ristow

— One local preschool and daycare facility is working to put more locally sourced foods into the bellies, and the classrooms, of children who attend their programs.

Young Tracks preschool and infant care center began partnering last year with Yampa Valley Farms, Community Agriculture Alliance and Innovative Ag to bring fresh beef, pork and microgreens into the school cafeteria.

"It started last fall, when I realized the prices in the grocery store had been going up and up," said Hillary Ackerman, a Young Tracks employee.

After talking with the Ag Alliance, she realized Young Tracks could purchase beef directly through Yampa Valley Farms at roughly the same price they'd been paying at the grocery store and use it to feed approximately 100 students and staff in the program.

"You know where the food is coming from, and it's supporting the community," Ackerman said.

A partnership with Innovative Ag has also brought microgreens into not only the cafeteria at the facility, but also the classroom.

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On Wednesday, students gathered around a classroom table with scissors to help trim microgreens for salads they would eat that day for lunch.

"The kids are thrilled," said Kim Martin, director of Young Tracks. "They talk about what they're eating. They enjoy it."

Students were eager to cut the sprouts and even more eager to eat them later that day.

"Yummy,” said student Zayden Workman. “I like it with ranch.”

Last spring, students — with the help of Innovative Ag — were able to plant a flat of microgreens, then harvest the greens themselves.

Martin said many Young Tracks students come from low-income families, and it's nice to know the school is providing those students with healthy meals for most of the day.

"We know where the food comes from, know where the cows are from," Ackerman said. "We believe it's healthier for our kids."

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow