Smaller school districts adapting best to new lunch regulations

Some foodservice workers participated in Cook for America’s week-long Culinary Boot Camp to learn healthy techniques.

CHENEY, Wash.—Cooks hustled around the kitchen at Cheney High School on Wednesday preparing a vegetarian lunch feast: fresh salad dressings, hot potato wedges, baked macaroni and cheese, roasted cauliflower and lentil soup.

The food service workers from five small regional school districts had gathered at Cook for America’s weeklong Culinary Boot Camp where participants learn techniques to make healthy, from-scratch food at or below the same price as processed food. “We call them lunch teachers because we want to reinforce that’s what they are there to do,” said Kate Adamick, Cook for America co-founder.

From-scratch cooking has been a success in the Cheney School District. Since making the switch two years ago using a grant from Empire Health Foundation, the district has seen savings in its lunch program of about $3,200 a year and a drop in obesity rates among children. And, school officials say, kids love the food.