When the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona started its Farm to Institution local sourcing program, they found that the benefits went far beyond the economic aid to local farmers. The Community Food Bank helped aggregate produce from twenty local farmers to provide better quality produce to local institutions. By supplying fresh, local produce to Tucson Medical Center Hospital and the Tucson Unified School District, the team found these institutions were much more engaged with the food they were eating. “The produce that arrives has the great color and flavor that comes from being able to grow until it is perfectly ripe,” said Tucson Medical Center Director, Beth Dorsey. “The local chard that we receive is fantastic,” said TMC’s Chef Jason Ricciardelli. “It cooks quickly, is extremely tender, comes in several different varieties, and is quite versatile. Both cooked and raw (in salads). It’s amazing to think this was grown in Southern AZ! This Mediterranean classic can be used with spinach, escarole, or another green, but the Chard really makes the dish more delicate and palatable.”
Chef Jason was happy to share their popular chard recipe-
Swiss Chard and White Beans
- 1 lb Swiss Chard (stems trimmed to 1” from leaf and cleaned)
- 1 large Yellow Onion (small dice)
- 6 Garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- 2 15oz can Cannellini Beans or white Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 ½ cup Lo-Sodium Veggie Broth
- 1 tbsp Apple cider Vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped Parsley
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
In large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Chop chard into 1” pieces. Place in onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chard and continue over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until chard is wilted. Stir frequently.
Add garlic and continue to sauté for 1 min. It’s important not to burn the garlic.
Add beans and broth. Braise in liquid for 12 minutes. Continue to stir frequently. Reduce heat to low after 6 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in seasoning and vinegar. Top with parsley. Serve immediately.
Rani Olsen at Tucson Unified School District also saw increased engagement and interest around fresh food once TUSD started sourcing locally grown produce through the Community Food Bank. “It was great,” said Olsen. “The conversations. The buzz. The excitement from students, and from their families, and from the teachers and staff, and from our cafeteria teams. Kids ask really great questions about growing, preparing, and eating food and we get to explore the answers together.” Students collaborated on developing recipes to try out the produce including the one below.
Student Recipe from Mansfeld middle school by middle school students: Gabriel, Maritza, and Justine. Teacher Susan Sumner of Mansfeld Middle School
Roasted Summer Vegetables from our local farms
- 4c assorted summer squash, chopped into large chunks
- 2c tomatoes, cut into large wedges
- 2c yellow or white onions, cut into medium wedges
- 1t chili powder
- 1t onion flakes
- 2-3T olive oil
- optional: lemon or lime wedge to garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Toss all ingredients.
Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes.
You can learn more about the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona’s Farm To Institution program here. If you are an institution that is interested in acquiring fresh, locally grown produce through this program, please contact Kara Jones at the Community Food Bank.