School district works on cooking local poultry from scratch

7:16 PM, Sep 6, 2013   |    comments
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LAKEWOOD - In the central kitchen of the Jefferson County School District, there's an evolution happening. Right next to the assembly-line machines putting together the current school lunches is a glimpse into the future.

"This is a step in the direction that we're taking," Yuri Sanow, executive chef and trainer for Jeffco Schools, said.

Sanow is a putting together a video which is part cooking show, part training seminar on how to handle, prepare, and cook chicken from scratch at 150 schools across the state's largest district.

"Putting them online so whenever a kitchen manager has a question, they can actually just go online and a view a full training on how to something," Jeremy Rindt, food and nutrition services technician, said.

This is all part of the district's efforts for Colorado Proud Day on September 18th. Jeffco along other districts around the state will serve lunch with food grown from local farms. But, the district's executive director of food services, Linda Stoll, wants the district to go even further.

"We've talked about local chicken in the past and there wasn't enough chicken farmers," Stoll said.

Now, Jeffco Schools have struck a partnership with Boulder Natural Meats to provide local, fresh chicken that's healthy, too.

"We think it's good for the Colorado economy and it's also good for the environment," Stoll said. "The chickens are raised without anti-biotics."

Stoll also plans to expand efforts of cooking from scratch past Colorado Proud Day. At least once-a-month, schools will serve chicken made from scratch which is why the video Sanow is putting together is important.

"Training 150 managers at 150 different sites is a big step," Stoll said.

Sanow says it's the right thing to do.

"It's nice for the parents," Sanow said. "They want their kids to eat this way."

Stoll says it's part of a what she calls the pendulum of school cafeterias. She says 50 years ago, all school food was cooked from scratch.

"For the last 10 or 15 years, we've done all processed food that you can reheat," Stoll said. "Well, there's a generation of kids now who've grown up with that and they want to go back the other way and have cook-from-scratch items."

Sanow says the cafeteria workers will take the utmost care to keep the chicken from cross-contaminating anything else in the kitchen. But, there is one question left that he feels will be answered in the lunchroom.

"What matters to the kids is that the food tastes good," Sanow said.


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