KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Goode with Ruby Jean's Juicery hopes his new Fresh Juice Program, which will provide juice to students in Kansas City Public Schools for free, is the beginning of something impactful.
"We want this to be just a starting point to establish trust and encourage kids to be healthier at an earlier age in life," Goode said.
Starting Friday, students will try the juice at lunchtime. If all goes well, the juices will be in schools every day.
"Our kids are somewhat hesitant when they hear juice, fruit or vegetables and equate it with being healthy, and I think this is a really good way to expose them to a way to get nutrition that's going to be beneficial to everyone," Christian Foster, principal at Lincoln College Prep High School, said.
Goode delivered the first samples to Lincoln Prep, Central Middle School and Faxon Elementary School on Thursday.
"There's 10,000 bottles over the entire school year that will be distributed," Goode said. "This is our first run. Today is 1,530 bottles."
Some students will get to try an apple/lemon/ginger combination.
Goode said fruit-forward combos are a great way to ease students into the concept of natural juices and smoothies, instead of shoving a bowl of kale in their face.
"Something that's fun, that's vibrant, that's from their community, that they can see with their own eyes, they can come in and visit and try other things," Goode said. "We're just extremely excited."
The district's dietitian hopes students will see there are flavorful, healthy options in their neighborhood and in school.
"We want to make sure that they are taste-tested by the kids before we actually add them on the menu, so we are trying to include them more in the process in how the menu looks, which I think is going to improve their overall diet," Hannah Thornburgh, a registered dietitian, said.
Many kids in the district live in neighborhoods where there aren't multiple grocery stores, or even one within walking distance. Many kids are used to grabbing items from a corner store or gas station. Thornburgh hopes the bright and compact packaging of Goode's products will be something familiar.
"And then hopefully they'll like it even better 'cause it is a fun interesting flavor and they'll want to choose juice more often over soda," Thornburgh said.
Goode will work with the district throughout the school year to gather feedback and hopes to expand from there.
"That's why we exist as a company. My grandmother died at 61 from type 2 diabetes, so we take that pain and now we seek to break down barriers," Goode said.