K-12 students may be most excited to show off their holiday gifts when returning from winter break, but what are the folks who feed them most looking forward to sharing? FSD spoke to influential operators throughout the country to find out which projects they’re planning to tackle first in 2018.
Menus in the making
Step one for Minneapolis Public Schools’ Culinary and Wellness Services? Finish the menu for the 2018-2019 school year, says Mark Augustine, executive chef for foodservice operations. “We are currently sampling, operationally testing and taste-testing at schools as we speak,” he says.
At Cincinnati Public Schools, new offerings involve a special monthly menu or a new ethnic option such as plantains or yucca fries, says Stephanie Dyehouse, assistant food supervisor of culinary development for the district. “Menu offerings continue to evolve with a focus on cleaner labels and ethnic fare,” she says. “We have incorporated roasted vegetables into our weekly rotation and have been very successful with that.”
A new process
Because of the high expense associated with third-party processing, MPS is kicking off a project to start breaking down produce in its central kitchen. Currently, more than 75 tons of local farm-to-school veggies are being processed off-site, Augustine says. “To get the project started, we have purchased—with the help of USDA grants—a wedging/slicing machine and a dicing machine, as well as a conveyor belt system to pull and move these products through the process,” he says. Next up: a washing and peeling machine, which will allow MPS to make its purchases directly from farmers, with the hope of long-term savings.
Progress on view
With an eye to tempting students’ visual senses as well as their taste buds, Cincinnati Public Schools is looking at new merchandising and display ware, Dyehouse says. Concepts will vary for elementary and high schools.