Food Co-ops Provide Fresh Ideas


It’s a summer ritual of hundreds at the annual meeting of Ohio school nutrition professionals – the School Nutrition Expo. You never know what tasty new product you will find. There, in the last row with the simplest of displays, were two of the freshest ideas of the expo.

  • Amish cheeses
  • Urban grown lettuce greensCo-Op Cheese

Cubed cheeses in hues of yellow and orange filled a table centered with a 10-gallon milk can. The can is actually used to transport local milk to the cheese processing plant. Talk about fresh!

Co-Op LettuceThe second display contained four boxes of bright, fluffy greens – red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce and spinach. The lettuce and cheeses are available through local cooperatives and are available to schools through Sysco Cleveland. The fresh food was the star of these displays!

Food Co-Ops

Middlefield Original Cheese is a farmer-owned co-op started back in 1956. Ninety-eight percent of the members are Amish and live on small family farms, milking their small dairy herd by hand. From early spring to late fall, the cows are out on pasture, enjoying the luscious grass and sunshine. Cooperative members believe that by keeping the land and cows healthy, a creamier and healthier cheese can be produced.

Green City Growers Cooperative began operations in 2012 with a 3.25-acre hydroponic greenhouse in a neighborhood of Cleveland. It is the largest food production greenhouse in a core urban area in the U.S. – the greenhouse produces 3 million heads of lettuce annually. The cooperative also believes in social responsibility. Green City employees are employee-owners and share in the profits of the business. Green City also donates 1% of all the leafy greens produced to the Cleveland Foodbank.

Consider food cooperatives as another school nutrition partner.

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