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YoFresh Expands in 2020 by providing healthy meals for kids

YoFresh provides food for Alta Care Group Head Start programs and More

Youngstown, OH: YoFresh, the Canfield-based meal subscription and delivery service, was chosen to provide meals for Alta Care Group’s  Head Start and Early Head Start programs for the 2020-2021 school year. 

 

The food that YoFresh is providing follows USDA Nutritional Guidelines for school lunches, but with a fresh and healthy twist.

“We want students to have a different experience than the typical school lunch experience. We enjoy creating food for students that is not only healthy, but they enjoy eating. “

Caroline Ritenour

COO, YoFresh Food

“Eating meals that are healthy and nutritious does not have to mean boring and awful food,” she continued, “We’ve seen a trend in food vendors that includes tons of processed foods.”  This can lead to a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits, poor health, and overall wellness as it teaches children that processed foods are what they should be eating.”

The USDA has guidelines for healthy, balanced meals that dictate the minimum portions required of each meal component.  “We have seen food vendors that will supply, say, lasagna roll-ups as the meal.  There are certain lasagna roll-ups you can purchase that exist that cover the grain and protein requirement required by the USDA.”  She explained how you can legally include enough sauce to comply with the USDA vegetable requirements.

“YoFresh doesn’t do that.  We make sure that if we serve something like lasagna roll-ups, we count that as the protein.  We include a separate grain component and a separate vegetable component.  We want to make sure the children are getting enough food and are visually able to see that healthy meals include vegetables on your plate at every meal.”

Plant Based Meals

YoFresh even works to create their own plant-based menu options and incorporates those weekly.

“There is more and more research that supports a plant-based diet is best for overall health and wellness.  There’s a public misconception that plant-based means you have to eat salads everyday and nothing else.”  She added, “I wouldn’t want to eat that way, either.”

YoFresh has been working to develop kid-friendly, plant based main dishes all summer. 

“You can also be creative with simple recipes like rice and beans, but introduce flavor profiles from around the world to create more exciting meals,” stated Head Chef, Don Ritenour.

“Teaching kids that healthy food can be flavorful has been what I’ve enjoyed most since starting to work on children’s meals.  Children’s meals were really an unexpected space for us, but I have an opportunity to share my love for creating flavorful foods and impact the future of Youngstown.  It’s incredible.  It’s all part of YoFresh’s “Eat Good, Feel Good, Do Good” mission.”

Don Ritenour

Head Chef/Co-Owner, YoFresh Food

When asked how they entered the child nutrition meal space, Caroline explained that child nutrition meals were definitely not even on their radar before Covid hit.  “We got an email from a large agency seeking food vendors for a local daycare this summer, and we jumped on the opportunity to give it a try.  It turned out, we really enjoy this sector of the food industry.”

Chef has had some prior experience with child nutrition through past employers and was really unhappy with the quality of food he was forced to use. “There’s no where else you could leave such a lasting impact than on the youth… why are we, in the food industry, sacrificing quality of food for the health and wellness of our future just to make a few extra pennies? It just doesn’t make sense.” 

YoFresh is currently the food provider for Alta, Potential Development Preschool, and the YWCA Preschool programs.  YoFresh is providing over 400 children 3 meals 4-5 days each week, and plans to expand within these programs as enrollment restrictions are lifted post-Covid.  Daycare facilities that are part of the CACFP program can email [email protected] to start a conversation about YoFresh.

  “Part of our mission is bringing pieces of our community together, and there’s just no better way to do that than with food,” said Chef.  

To find out more about the Alta Head Start, click here. 

Eat Good | Feel Good | Do Good