This morning a group of Lyndale Project LEAD toured the Minneapolis School Districts’ Culinary and Nutrition Services Facility. Our LEAD braved the early morning and cold weather for the chance to see where their lunches are produced. It was a sobering experience to learn how little capacity exists for actually making food within the district, but also exciting to hear that in the last 2 year one third of all schools have added a kitchen on site to actually make fresh food. Our LEAD had rave reviews over the improvement in food over the last few years as the district has shifted from pre-packaged items to fresh salad bars.
Our tour was hosted by the district’s Farm to School Coordinator, who has been working with Youth Farm on in-school taste tests and supporting our school gardens at Lyndale Elementary and Nellie Stone Johnson Schools. We had the chance to meet the district’s head chef, Ricardo Abbott, who told us how we develops recipes from scratch to make them as healthy and fresh as possible.
On the production floor we got to don super fashionable white jackets and hair nets for a behind the scenes look at the salad assembly room, a ham and cheese sandwich line, the assembly of pre-made tater tots into plastic containers, and a huge vat of nacho cheese.
Finally, we got the low down from Nutrition Services Director Bertrand Webber on how the district has to follow USDA guidelines, how food safety impacts food production and produce sourcing, and why it even matters for us to eat fresh food. A HUGE thank you to the Nutrition Services team and to Andrea Northrup for hosting us!