Program freshens up Eagle County school lunches |

Program freshens up Eagle County school lunches

NWS Fresh Food 1 KH 9-30-11

AVON, Colorado – Kids will eat quinoa, voluntarily.


I saw it with my own eyes, then ate the same stuff they did and I gotta tell you, when you embed quinoa and carrots in a chicken slider, it’ll make you reach for seconds.

Turns out the best way to get kids to eat healthy is to make something they want to eat.

Ben Moore, sous chef with the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch knew that. He and some of the Ritz crew were at Avon Elementary School feeding kids. The kids were happy to be eating quinoa and carrots, even after they knew they were.

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“Quinoa is a super grain, and it’s incredibly healthy,” Moore said smiling, watching kids wolf down stuff that’s good for them.

It’s all part of the school district’s Fresh Approach program and the Ritz’s community programs.

The Ritz-Carlton crew will prepare and serve healthy lunches to students at three local elementary schools. It’s from-scratch cooking and fresh produce.

“I can’t think of a better way to make a positive impact on our community than by making sure Eagle County’s children in public schools get at least one nutritious meal a day,” Moore said.

Warren French runs the Avon Elementary school cafeteria. He’s pretty creative about getting vegetables into Avon Elementary kids. He slips extra veggies into the marinara sauce, as well as the sauce he uses for macaroni and cheese.

Moore says he heard about Fresh Approach from Tony Cardona, who had been recruited to the Ritz from Pasadena, Calif.

The Ritz crew will be in Eagle later this month to cook and serve another lunch, then Edwards next month.

“We want to do what we can for the community,” Moore said.

Ray Edel is the school district’s director of nutritional services. They tested Fresh Approach last year at Brush Creek Elementary School. This year it’s in nine elementary schools.

It’s back-to basics cooking. Things are made from scratch, meals include a wide choice of fruits and vegetables and kids get to pick instead of something being plopped onto their plate.

“The Fresh Approach concept is simple: Replace highly processed foods with homemade entrees from scratch; include whole grains; use low-fat hormone-free milk; and provide an “all-you-can-eat” fresh fruit and salad bar for kids to eat daily – all for just $3,” Edel said.

And it really does taste good.

“Parents and police are notorious for visiting schools around lunch time,” Edel said smiling.

Abdullah Vural is the Ritz general manager and moved to Eagle County with his family.

“I strongly believe in the importance of providing fresh and healthy food to our children, including my own daughter,” Vural said. “I learned early on that children learn by our example, and Fresh Approach honors this belief with their healthy-living initiative, which I’m truly proud to support.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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