What started as a small idea with big hopes, has grown far beyond what its creators could’ve imagined. After five years running, Tour de Fresh presented by the California Giant Foundation, continues to support Salad Bars to Schools in a big way.
The Northern California route, starting in Kirkwood and ending in Monterey, was no small feat for Tour de Fresh riders. After twisting through the mountains of Tahoe and pushing through the heat of central California, riders closed out the four-day, 300-mile journey at The Wharf Marketplace for their Finish Line Festival. Following a victory lap accompanied by cheering family and friends, a $141,000 check was presented to the United Fresh Start Foundation that will donate at least 40 salad bars to schools.
As riders arrived at the Finish Line Festival, they were met by Supervisor Mary Adams of the 5th District in Monterey, foodservice directors and recipients of salad bars from the event Rodney Taylor and Robert Cuellar, Andrew Marshall from United Fresh, and dozens of family and friends from the industry.
Riders cross the finish line.
“It really is powerful to see the culmination of all the work that has been put in to this event over the years be so successful and make tangible changes in schools,” said Cindy Jewell, Vice President of Marketing for California Giant Berry Farms. “I say this every year, and I will say it again, this was the best group we’ve had – everyone was in such great spirit, and even with the intensity of the route and several unforeseen circumstances, the passion and personal nature of this cause shined through the entire time.”
Keeping with the event’s dedication to sportsmanship and teamwork, Tour de Fresh awarded yellow jerseys to riders at the end of each day’s ride for their exemplary teamwork, spirit, and stamina. On night three of the ride, Tour de Fresh dubbed it “Ladies’ Night,” giving each of the ladies a yellow jersey for their “beast mode” during the day.
“The ladies were absolutely dominating with some of the most challenging roads we’ve ever seen for Tour de Fresh – their unity and power was incredible to watch and those yellow jerseys were well-earned,” added Jewell.
No matter the experience level, this year’s ride was nothing short of intense – everything from the intense beauty of the California mountains and coasts to the intensity of the heat and climbs that came with those views. Even as challenges arose, energy did not fade, nor did the community and teamwork shown by the riders and support teams.
Check presentation with Andrew Marshall, Rodney Taylor, Robert Cuellar and Cindy Jewell.
“This year was challenging with some of the terrain and weather, but it really brought the best out of us as a result” said Cristen Bonz, top fundraiser with more than $11,000 in personal donations and rider for Sakata Seed America. “When we’re able to come together, not just to ride because we love it, but because we know we’re making a generational impact, we can’t help but have a great time despite whatever unforeseen circumstances arise.”
One thing that was echoed throughout the ride, from United Fresh’s Tom Stenzel’s speech on night one, all the way to the Finish Line Festival is the industry impact that this event truly generates. Not only have more than 5,000 schools provided more opportunities for students to choose fresh, but in turn, fresh produce sales have increased by $30 million per year as a direct result – something that makes Tour de Fresh not just personal at the school level, but also at the business level.
"It's been fantastic to see the industry come together to support increasing children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables in schools," said Andrew Marshall, United Fresh's Director of Foundation Programs and Partnerships. “We so appreciate everyone involved with Tour de Fresh and all they have done to increase the visibility of the Salad Bars to Schools program, while raising significant funds to help bring salad bars to more schools across the country."
While the Tour de Fresh 2018 ride may be over, there is still an opportunity to support Tour de Fresh by visiting www.tourdefresh.com/riders
and making a donation to support any of the riders listed since the fundraising will continue through August 31, 2018.