News from 2023-2024

Posted: September 8, 2023

APS Honored for Using New Mexico-Grown Produce in its Food Program

District works with area farms to buy fruits and vegetables in bulk.

When you’re responsible for feeding tens of thousands of students at APS daily, you can’t just show up at the farmer’s market and pick up the fruits and vegetables you’ll need for the day.

So Sandra Kemp, executive director of Food and Nutrition Services at APS, does the next best thing. She works with area farms like Wagner, Silver Leaf, and North Valley Organics  to buy produce in bulk.

Those efforts were recently recognized by the New Mexico Grown Coalition, a network of state agencies, non-profit organizations, and community-based groups that strive to support the state’s farming economy through such efforts as the Golden Chile Awards.

Albuquerque Public Schools received a Blossom award, which is given to entities whose New Mexico-grown food programs are reaching maturity. In all, 17 school districts, 10 senior centers, 18 preschools, and 21 food producers were recognized. The awards were announced on Sept. 5.

“We are thrilled to see so many of our districts recognized in these awards,” state Public Education Secretary Arsenio Romero said in a statement. “These honorees serve as role models for all schools and districts in the state on the important connection between our food and how it is grown and the health of our communities.”

So far this school year, APS has already purchased several tons of New Mexico-grown produce, including:

  • 16,000 pounds of watermelon
  • 2,800 pounds of cantaloupe
  • 785 cases of peaches
  • 312 cases of pluots (a cross between a plum and an apricot)
  • 120 cases of nectarines
  • 90 cases of salad greens/mix
  • And 1,100 pints of cherry tomatoes.

“We buy whatever we can get our hands on,” Kemp said. “We have for years. They give us what they can, but it’s never enough.”