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Bringing Scratch Cooking into Colorado School Kitchens

March 29, 2011

Posted By:
Maren Stewart, President & CEO

In a series of intensive five-day culinary trainings that begin this spring, school nutrition directors and cafeteria staff from across the state will learn essential skills such as baking techniques, time management and maximizing a food budget. These Lunch Teachers‚ are participating in a unique statewide health initiative to learn how to cook healthy, delicious meals for students in Colorado.

Expanded from four trainings last year to eight this year, the Cook for America Culinary Boot Camp training program is designed to teach school nutrition directors and their staff how to prepare fresh, made-from-scratch meals and sustain programs focused on healthful eating. The culinary boot camp program, which kicked off last week, is hosted by LiveWell Colorado and the Colorado Health Foundation, and is part of LiveWell Colorado’s Freshen Up! School Food Initiative.

Boot camp is in session!

Last week at Fox Meadow Middle School in Colorado Springs, 24 Lunch Teachers‚Ñ¢ from seven local districts were given hands-on training focusing on the fundamentals of scratch-cooking, recipe and menu development, universal breakfast strategies, commodities ordering, culinary math and much more. This week, 24 participants from five school districts will learn the same skills at Rangeview High School in Aurora.

In our eight trainings over the course of the year, we will equip more than 190 Lunch Teachers‚Ñ¢ with the training, empowerment and inspiration to enable them to incorporate scratch cooking into their own school food programs.

Leveraging expertise and planning for sustainability

The leaders for each of the Cook for America programs are two highly respected chefs, Kate Adamick and Andrea Martin. They are joined by 12 chef instructor trainees, who are local chefs who were selected to complete the Cook for America¬Æ Culinary Boot Camp Instructor Training program hosted by LiveWell Colorado in January.

The instructor-training program is a vital part of transitioning lessons learned in the boot camps into action in Colorado’s school cafeterias. The chef instructor trainees will become certified chef instructors after teaching at the 2011 boot camps. In their new role, the certified chef instructors will provide on-site trainings and consultations to school districts that have participated in the culinary boot camp program. This added responsibility will help LiveWell Colorado ensure that participating school districts successfully transition their kitchens to use less processed foods and offer more made-from-scratch meals.

An important ingredient in the fight against obesity

According to the Colorado Health Foundation’s recently released 2010 Colorado Health Report Card, Colorado's rank for childhood obesity dropped from third in 2003 to 23rd in 2007 with 14 percent of Colorado's children classified as obese.

Our goal is to ensure that every student in Colorado gets nourishing and delicious meals at school, which is vitally important in reducing childhood obesity. These culinary boot camps do not simply teach school food personnel how to prepare healthier meals; they also arm them with the tools to build and sustain school food programs that will positively impact the health of Colorado’s children.

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