Every year, our department purchases locally-grown fruits and vegetables. We continue these efforts through Winter by procuring locally and regionally sourced food through our food purveyors. Year round, we are able to purchase state-grown apples, potatoes, and mushrooms. Additionally, each year we procure 2,500 apples from a local orchard to celebrate the Great Apple Crunch. Most recently, we have teamed with a local beef provider that gives us access to grass-fed, fresh local beef.
Each year, our department looks at how we can reduce our carbon footprint. The first year, we introduced the Rainbow Bar in the Middle and High School. This is an array of offerings of fruits and vegetables, representing the colors of the rainbow. The idea is to offer multiple appealing choices for students so that they take items that they want, not just because they have to. Last year, with the help of the Purdy Green Team, we eliminated plastic straws from our district. Paper straws are still available for students that may need the assistance of straws. Additionally, we switched to unbleached napkins that are less harmful on the environment and use less stringent detergents in our dishwashers.
In order to be competitive, we have had to rethink our approach. In addition to rethinking our production model, we have transitioned employees into proper roles and maximized labor hours. Equally, we have restructured the department to share the same hierarchy that you would see in a large restaurant, seeking and hiring culinary professionals. We have decided to break the stereotype of the typical “lunch lady” and expand the staff's mindset of what can be done.
More to Come
We feel that we have made some great changes to the department in the last three years and work hard to continually grow. Small changes, that might not be noticed by the customers include cooking on site and batch cooking, introducing more dessert or "treats" per week for something a little special for the students, advocating moderation, teaming with the local Pizza Hut chain to offer genuine Pizza Hut Pizza (made with whole grain crust of course). This is not only exciting for the students, but also helps the local economy, and have started preparing options entirely made from scratch. Not a novel idea, but something that is more daunting than it sounds considering all of the Federal regulations on calories, sodium, and fat contents. Currently, we offer at least one made in house item a week, but as for everything, we hope there is more to come!
To learn more, please visit the Student Nutrition Department Website!