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Third Coast Fresh

Posted on June 1, 2013

No balanced diet is complete without a healthy helping of fruits and vegetables, and through their Choice Partners cooperative purchasing contracts with Houston-based distributor Third Coast Fresh, member schools are keeping their students nourished, satisfied and informed.

Awarded its first Choice Partners contract in 2011, Third Coast Fresh is a unique distributor of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products, priding itself on a customer-friendly, “hands on” approach to the ever-changing food industry. Member schools who have contracts with Third Coast Fresh speak highly of its level of service, and of BJ Nix, the company’s director of school sales and the principle liaison between directors of school nutrition and the latest crop of healthy food.

“I love working with Third Coast Fresh, and I love BJ,” said Oleta Rushing, child nutrition coordinator of Shepherd Independent School District. “If I have any problem, I call BJ and she gets on it immediately till we get it fixed. She is very dedicated.”

Lettuce Be Prepared

The challenge of delivering fresh produce to school children is not always easy, according to BJ, especially when growers have to contend with unpredictable changes in weather.

“We had a rough year,” BJ admitted, because two of her main farm-to-school food items – lettuce and watermelon – were negatively impacted by harsh weather conditions. “Lettuce doubled in price due to a freeze in the growing region, but the co-op contract pricing is locked in,” BJ explained, adding that the burden of the price increase was not shouldered onto schools due to the terms of the Choice Partners contract. “We have an option to increase prices if we have to, but we were able to keep all our prices steady,” she said.

Watermelon-lovers, on the other hand, were not so lucky.

“This year from March to April we had unusually cool weather, which affected Texas watermelons,” BJ said, disappointed that Third Coast Fresh was not able to offer watermelon as a result. A typical, school-ready watermelon weighs between 22 and 24 pounds, BJ pointed out, but this spring’s cool temperatures produced small melons that weighed about five to eight pounds less than that.

Learning Made Tasty

The level of Third Coast Fresh’s commitment to child nutrition goes beyond just delivering a quality product. BJ and her team offer cooperating schools a “health fair” where she brings students samples of unfamiliar foods and gets them pumped about nutrition.

“BJ came out and did a physical education night with us,” Rushing said. “We had fresh fruit and vegetables. BJ came and helped me set up. She served the kids, visited with them, talked to them about fresh fruits and vegetables, served them jicama with little chili sprinkles and fresh lime – the kids were so excited.”

Other schools have also taken BJ up on her offer of a healthy food demonstration and found the experience well worth the extra planning. Dinah Redden, director of child nutrition at Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated ISD, described such a night intended for middle and high school students in her district. BJ came bearing more jicama, sweet potato sticks and other products, getting the students enthused about trying new foods.

“She’s very good at that,” Redden said, adding that BJ has also invested time in educating food service employees. “BJ has been to a couple of my in-service days, [where she] taught us how to make figurines out of vegetable sticks for our cafeteria lines,” she said.

Third Coast Fresh is one of five competitively awarded contract holders for produce. For more information, contact BJ at 832-553-5628 or bnix@tcfresh.com. Members can log in and see the details of the Choice Partners contract at https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/third-coast-fresh.

No balanced diet is complete without a healthy helping of fruits and vegetables, and through their Choice Partners cooperative purchasing contracts with Houston-based distributor Third Coast Fresh, member schools are keeping their students nourished, satisfied and informed.

Awarded its first Choice Partners contract in 2011, Third Coast Fresh is a unique distributor of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products, priding itself on a customer-friendly, “hands on” approach to the ever-changing food industry. Member schools who have contracts with Third Coast Fresh speak highly of its level of service, and of BJ Nix, the company’s director of school sales and the principle liaison between directors of school nutrition and the latest crop of healthy food.

“I love working with Third Coast Fresh, and I love BJ,” said Oleta Rushing, child nutrition coordinator of Shepherd Independent School District. “If I have any problem, I call BJ and she gets on it immediately till we get it fixed. She is very dedicated.”

Lettuce Be Prepared

The challenge of delivering fresh produce to school children is not always easy, according to BJ, especially when growers have to contend with unpredictable changes in weather.

“We had a rough year,” BJ admitted, because two of her main farm-to-school food items – lettuce and watermelon – were negatively impacted by harsh weather conditions. “Lettuce doubled in price due to a freeze in the growing region, but the co-op contract pricing is locked in,” BJ explained, adding that the burden of the price increase was not shouldered onto schools due to the terms of the Choice Partners contract. “We have an option to increase prices if we have to, but we were able to keep all our prices steady,” she said.

Watermelon-lovers, on the other hand, were not so lucky.

“This year from March to April we had unusually cool weather, which affected Texas watermelons,” BJ said, disappointed that Third Coast Fresh was not able to offer watermelon as a result. A typical, school-ready watermelon weighs between 22 and 24 pounds, BJ pointed out, but this spring’s cool temperatures produced small melons that weighed about five to eight pounds less than that.

Learning Made Tasty

The level of Third Coast Fresh’s commitment to child nutrition goes beyond just delivering a quality product. BJ and her team offer cooperating schools a “health fair” where she brings students samples of unfamiliar foods and gets them pumped about nutrition.

“BJ came out and did a physical education night with us,” Rushing said. “We had fresh fruit and vegetables. BJ came and helped me set up. She served the kids, visited with them, talked to them about fresh fruits and vegetables, served them jicama with little chili sprinkles and fresh lime – the kids were so excited.”

Other schools have also taken BJ up on her offer of a healthy food demonstration and found the experience well worth the extra planning. Dinah Redden, director of child nutrition at Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated ISD, described such a night intended for middle and high school students in her district. BJ came bearing more jicama, sweet potato sticks and other products, getting the students enthused about trying new foods.

“She’s very good at that,” Redden said, adding that BJ has also invested time in educating food service employees. “BJ has been to a couple of my in-service days, [where she] taught us how to make figurines out of vegetable sticks for our cafeteria lines,” she said.

Third Coast Fresh is one of five competitively awarded contract holders for produce. For more information, contact BJ at 832-553-5628 or bnix@tcfresh.com. Members can log in and see the details of the Choice Partners contract at https://www.choicepartners.org/vendors/third-coast-fresh.

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