From Jamie Oliver to The Washington Post, it seems everyone is talking about school food these days. In fact, America’s children eat less than half the amount fruits and vegetables recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. In the summer of 2010, the District of Columbia launched a pilot program in which a select number of DC Public Schools (DCPS) would try to offer healthy, scratch-cooked meals featuring local food items.
As one of two successful bidders, DCCK began meal service activities at 7 DC Public Schools in August 2010 – after removing every deep-fat fryer from our host schools. Today, we serve nearly 5,000 nutritious meals to DC schoolchildren every day. At our schools, 70% of all students qualify for free and reduced school meals.
We’re not in the business of serving arugula and tofu ‘to the masses.’ We examined the foods children already knew and often ate at home with their families and developed new recipes that incorporated healthier ingredients and preparation methods. Our pizza, for example, is served on whole-wheat French bread with scratch-made sauce and reduced-fat mozzarella cheese. Instead of processed French fries, we serve herb-roasted potato wedges. And we replace salt and sodium with creative and health-promoting spice combinations. This respectful, pragmatic approach encourages children to eat healthier while generating revenue for DC Central Kitchen.
A Q&A With Alice Waters, Washingtonian, January 10
Clip from Mike Curtin’s interview on NPR’s Splendid Table (His piece starts at the 44 minute mark)
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farm Bill: Title IV Nutrition.Washington,D.C.: USDA, 2007; Kann, L., Grunbaum, J., McKenna, M.L., Wechsler, H., Galuska, D.A. (2004)