Crop to classroom: Detroit students enjoy healthy meals


DETROIT – Lunch for students at the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences isn't the typical pizza, chips or chicken nuggets. They're actually served fresh salad and fruit that was picked the day before.

"We were, you know, worried at first," said Gregory Foster, the director of food service at the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences. "We didn't know how the kids would respond to it."

Under a new partnership with CanStrong, the students get fresh -- and nutritious -- food straight from the fields.

"Hearing the bad things that I've heard about school food, I thought there was an opportunity to do something different," said CanStrong co-founder Johnny Cannon.

Cannon started CanStrong with Greg Armstrong. The company provides 18,000 healthy meals a day to children in Michigan schools. The food the students is eating is always served within 48 hours after it was picked from a Michigan farm.

"It makes me feel real good because I know they are getting wholesome food, non-chemicals and it's fresh, directly out the ground," said farmer Hakim Rashid.


From the fields, the fresh produce goes to the CanStrong facility. A dietician helps come up with a healthy menu and to make sure it actually tastes good so the children will enjoy eating it while receiving the proper nutrients.

"It's very different from when we were in school where you just got that scoop of mashed potatoes or that old pizza," said CanStrong spokesman Michael Kennedy. "We've actually had to go a step further. We know that children eat with their eyes so we're making sure that the meals look good, they taste good and."


And so far it's working!

"They love the food!" said Kennedy. "We're getting kids to try different things like radishes and jicama sticks and things like that."

But CanStrong's partnership isn't just about providing fresh food. These kids are also getting an education about the importance of healthy eating.

"We know book-wise education is most important," said Cannon. "But for my world it's definitely an education of how to eat right and the values of eating a certain way."

"Not only do we have our dieticians to come to the classrooms, we have our farmers to come to the classrooms so that the kids can start learning about what they're eating," said Kennedy.

And while school is out CanStrong's work isn't done. They're serving breakfast and lunch for summer school students. They're also getting their menu and healthy eating lessons prepared for the next school year. But most importantly they're working to provide their services to even more schools across Metro Detroit.

"It's up to companies such as ourselves to continue feeding children all year round 3-6-5," said Cannon.


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