Schoolchildren in Alabama are enjoying a citrus treat this winter thanks in part to the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support.
Satsumas, also known as the Christmas orange, are a seedless fruit with loose skin grown in Alabama. DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain provides them to schools in the state through the Department of Defense Fresh Program.
The DOD Fresh Program enables DLA to buy and distribute fresh produce to schools using entitlement funds set aside by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ken Wilmoth, Subsistence customer relations supervisor, and Allan Reif, Subsistence customer account specialist, work with agencies in the state to ensure Alabama schools receive quality produce.
Subsistence purchases several crops grown in Alabama during the school year. When first presented with the satsumas, Wilmoth and Reif agreed that schoolchildren would enjoy the easy-to-peel orange.
Subsistence provided 5,650 cases of Alabama-grown satsumas during the 2015-2016 school year, said Brantley Tucker, from the Alabama Department of Education child nutrition program.
That’s more than doubled this year with 16,000 cases purchased, said Don Wambles, from the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.
Alabama schools have taken more advantage of the DOD Fresh Program overall, from $75,000 worth of produce in 1995 to about $5 million this year, Wilmoth said.
Wambles said it takes a lot of coordination to get fresh produce to the schools, but strong relationships among the various agencies involved helps.
“I would definitely recommend the DOD Fresh program,” said Wambles. “It is a wonderful partnership between local farmers, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, DLA and the schools. It is a way to provide fresh local products to our children.”
Other Alabama crops that Subsistence provides to schools through the DoD Fresh program include apples, watermelons, sweet potatoes and grape tomatoes.