2020 Innovators: Colorado School District Equips for Healthy Meals

A centralized culinary center helps Boulder Valley School District produce thousands of scratch-cooked meals a day with room to grow.

Boulder Valley School District has replaced multiple regional kitchens this year with a 33,000-sq.-ft. centralized culinary center. The culinary center provides substantial labor-savings for the Boulder, Colo.-based district and also enables it to produce thousands of scratch-cooked meals a day with room to grow.

“We use healthier, locally sourced and organic ingredients whenever possible, and we avoid highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, dyes and food additives. This means that we do a lot more cooking from scratch than many school districts,” says BVSD Director of Food Services Chef Ann Cooper, an advocate of healthy food for all children. “The culinary center has space and equipment that enables us to increase staff efficiency and to cook in larger batches, which ensures consistency, quality and feasibility to continue scratch cooking on an institutional scale.”

Phillip Landgraf, principal of Ricca Design Studios, who served as the consultant on the project, points to the cook-chill system and the inventory holding room as project highlights. The cook-chill system—with kettles, an automatic bagger and a chill tank—”allows the chefs to produce large batches of food, sous-vide-style, up to 500 pounds at a time. It monitors the cooling process to ensure foods are chilled according to HACCP guidelines,” he says. The inventory holding room—or walk-in “warm” freezer—holds product in a slush-like state at about 33°F, allowing the district to keep cooked items for 30 days, rather than the usual 14 days. Existing school kitchens reheat items on-site.

Watch for full coverage of the 2020 Innovators in the December issue of Foodservice Equipment Reports.

About the 2020 Innovators
Foodservice Equipment Reports 2020 Innovators program, sponsored by Parts Town, recognizes the best ideas in foodservice with a special focus on a clever or creative process, layout or system. It’s open to many segments of the foodservice equipment and supplies industry, including commercial and noncommercial operators, consultants, dealers, manufacturers’ reps and service agents. For more details, visit fermag.com/innovators.

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