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Sustainable Kitchens heads back to school!

On a Wednesday in early Sept 2017, a huge line of Madison West High School students snaked around their cafeteria, waiting to sample the new scratch-made lunch option: Chicken Nachos with Beans, Corn, Fresh Pico and a melty cheese sauce that, surprisingly, was half butternut squash. It was a sign for the Madison Metropolitan School District Food Service Director, Steve Youngbauer and the Sustainable Kitchens team, that their vision to shake up the mold of school lunch just might succeed.

In 2017, SK partnered with MMSD to bring scratch-made school lunches to the district. This was a daunting task due to the many constraints faced by lunchrooms across the county - a tight budget, limited ingredient options and kitchen equipment, strict nutrient requirements and the perceived notion that high schoolers are picky eaters.

However, over the 2017-2018 school year, SK developed and tested 40 scratch-made recipes, that met all nutrient requirements and cost under $1.30 a plate. These recipes were then given a stamp of approval by the high schoolers on Sample & Survey Wednesdays.

After receiving a thumbs-up from the students, it was now time to have the kitchen staff start making scratch-meals. During the Sustainable Kitchens Culinary School, the Food Service Workers learned scratch-cooking skills like how to make sauces, bake fresh breads and braise large roasts. It was a lot of fun!

With the staff trained and the recipes vetted, the SK Design team developed branding for the new line of scratch-made lunches. Students could now look for the green Nourish signs in the cafeteria to find the samples they had tasted in full-sized lunch form. These scratch recipes are on rotation everyday in the Nourish Line of East and West High Schools cafeterias.

This fall, the SK team is excited to return to the Madison Metropolitan School District to continue our work with the Food Service Department - this time with our sights on the Middle Schools!

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