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Get Schools Cooking

The Get Schools Cooking application is currently closed and will reopen in January/February 2022.

Mission: Provide comprehensive guidance that enables districts to strategically develop their school food operations and serve students healthy, scratch cooked meals.

Get Schools Cooking

The Get Schools Cooking application is currently closed and will reopen in January/February 2022.

Mission: Provide comprehensive guidance that enables districts to strategically develop their school food operations and serve students healthy, scratch cooked meals.

Overview

What is Get Schools Cooking?

Get Schools Cooking (GSC) is an intensive 3-year assessment and strategic planning program that provides schools with the operational knowledge to transition from a heat and serve to scratch cook operational model. (The program was previously known as the School Food Support Initiative.)


Program Goals

  • Provide school districts with individualized technical support to assist in sustainably moving from a highly processed to cook from scratch operation.
  • Assess barriers and identify recommended actions in five key areas of school food service: Food, Finance, Facilities, Human Resources, and Marketing.
  • Provide system improvement grants that support the implementation of recommended actions and next steps.

Program Details

Once selected for Get Schools Cooking, districts will complete the following steps over a three year period:

Workshop

Districts attend a two-day workshop in Boulder, CO where they will:

  • Review foundational strategies for successful school food reform through sessions such as recipe development, the importance of financial tracking, and how to best support staff to create change.
  • Visit Boulder Valley School District kitchens and cafeterias to see transformation first-hand.
  • Network with school food experts and other district program participants while dining at some of the best Farm to Table restaurants in Boulder.

On-site Assessment and Report

School food experts visit participating districts to observe their current operations and identify opportunities for improvement in day-to-day activities. The assessment will focus on the five key areas of school food operations:

  • Food (i.e. procurement, commodities, recipe and menu development);
  • Finance (i.e. budget development, meal counts, eligibility processing);
  • Facilities (i.e. salad bars, cooking and service equipment);
  • Human Resources (i.e. job descriptions, professional development, staffing structure); and
  • Marketing (i.e. communications with students and parents, social media, branding and logo).

A post-assessment report, including recommendations, is provided to use as a guide for next steps and working with leadership and the school community.


On-site Debrief and Strategic Planning

Chef Ann Cooper and Chef Beth Collins return to the district to present assessment findings to key district leadership and food service team members. Following the debrief, they lead team members through a strategy session to review the recommendations and associated actions needed to achieve the desired changes based on the on-site assessment.


Additional On-site Training and Off-site Technical Assistance

Districts are provided additional support to help implement recommendations from their assessment. This includes training for all staff through Whole Kid Foundation’s Healthy Food Service program. Past districts have used additional training and TA to:

  • eliminate flavored milk from their menus;
  • accurately update their financial tracking tools;
  • receive guidance and advice prior to a director’s first state review.

$35,000 Systems Assistance Grant

Districts have the opportunity to apply for a one-time $35,000 systems assistance grant that is designed to support the identified needs and goals of their program. This grant has been used by past participants to:

  • purchase kitchen equipment used to prepare scratch cooked meals;
  • implement salad bars that support the consumption of a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables;
  • purchase software that allows districts to track inventory, manage production records, and incorporate new recipes;
  • train staff on recipe development and testing.

Yearly Evaluations

For two years following their assessment, districts participate in evaluations managed by the nationally-recognized Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. They conduct evaluative interviews with districts and collect updated data to measure a district’s progress in the program.

Previous Participants

Previous GSC participants have

  • Introduced new scratch-cooked recipes, such as meatballs, hummus, salmon cakes and chickpea masala
  • Installed salad bars
  • Added new vendors to procure local products
  • Eliminated highly processed chicken nuggets and patties
  • Gained significant community support through increased communications and involvement in food service department events
  • Introduced whole muscle chicken

1st GSC Cohort

  • Bellingham Public Schools (Bellingham, WA)
  • Buford City Schools (Buford, GA)
  • Passaic Public Schools (Passaic, NJ)
  • Watertown Public Schools (Watertown, MA)

2nd GSC Cohort​

  • Brewster Central School District (Brewster, NY)
  • Fridley Public Schools (Fridley, MN)
  • Norwood City School District (Norwood, OH)
  • Ocean View School District (Oxnard, CA)
  • Oxford School District (Oxford, MS)
  • Staunton City Schools (Staunton, VA)
  • Tempe Elementary School District (Tempe, AZ)

3rd GSC Cohort

  • Caroline County Public Schools (Denton, MD)
  • Goleta Union School District (Goleta, CA)
  • Marysville Joint Unified School District (Marysville, CA)
  • Napa Valley Unified School District (Napa, CA)

4th GSC Cohort

  • Beaufort County Schools (Washington, NC)
  • Franklin Special School District (Franklin, TN)
  • Manhattan-Ogden USD 383 (Manhattan, KS)
  • South Madison Community School Corporation (Pendleton, IN)
  • Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools (Wisconsin Rapids, WI)

Eligibility

To apply school districts must meet the following criteria:

  • Be firmly committed to working towards a scratch-cooked and fresh whole foods approach to their meal programs.
  • Demonstrate support for improvement from district leadership.
  • Participate in the National School Lunch Program.
  • Have a minimum district enrollment of 3000 students and serve between four and thirty schools.
  • Run a self-operated food service program.

How to Apply

Get Schools Cooking operates on an 18-month application cycle. Applications will reopen in January/February 2022. Each application cycle is accompanied by a webinar regarding the application process and program structure.

The application can be extensive. We request several data sources from districts, including meal counts, profit and loss statement, and staffing configuration. To view a sample application from a previous application period, click here. Once districts submit an application, the Chef Ann Foundation interviews a select group of candidates to assess their readiness and ability to participate in the program. Interviews are done via video conferencing and include the Director for the Food Service Department and their direct supervisor. Program participants are selected from this group of applicants. For questions regarding Get Schools Cooking, please Contact Us.

How to Apply

Get Schools Cooking operates on an 18-month application cycle. Applications will reopen in January/February 2022. Each application cycle is accompanied by a webinar regarding the application process and program structure.

The application can be extensive. We request several data sources from districts, including meal counts, profit and loss statement, and staffing configuration. To view a sample application from a previous application period, click here. Once districts submit an application, the Chef Ann Foundation interviews a select group of candidates to assess their readiness and ability to participate in the program. Interviews are done via video conferencing and include the Director for the Food Service Department and their direct supervisor. Program participants are selected from this group of applicants. For questions regarding Get Schools Cooking, please Contact Us.

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