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    From the District's Central Kitchen to Students' Trays
    Posted on 10/02/2017
    Image of food being prepared

    School Lunch Monday!

    As part of the district’s recently launched School Lunch! Did You Know? Campaign, for the next several Mondays we are sharing an inside look into our Nutrition Services Department. We call them School Lunch Monday and we are going to tell you about and show you things you may not have known.

    This Monday we are focusing on the district’s central kitchen. Located inside the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, the district’s central kitchen is responsible for brainstorming, creating, testing, and making from scratch, many of the meals more than 20,000 students eat every day. 

    Each morning, Monday through Friday, more than a dozen staff arrive at the central kitchen just after three A.M. Broken-up into teams, like the cooking team, salad team, packaged meal team, and bakery team, staff work together to make and ship meals and ingredients to schools according to what a specific school needs. Each order is placed inside a food bin on wheels, rolled to an outside shipping and receiving platform and loaded onto trucks that deliver those items to schools before kids arrive for the day. After receiving food and ingredients from the central kitchen, schools prep and heat it all up and serve breakfast and lunch.

    The central kitchen itself is about half the size of a football field. It includes an area for cooking food, preparing cooked food, a few assembly and packaging lines, several large coolers, a giant freezer that’s larger than most Seattle apartments, a couple of dry food storage areas, and a separate area for making fresh salads. 

    Dedicated staff use every square inch of the facility to make sure the 200 to 300 gallons of food they prepare, daily, keeps kids fed. They run their kitchen like clockwork while cleanliness is a top priority. The central kitchen includes a dishwasher large enough for an adult to walk inside without crouching and a mini laundry mat where towels, cloths, and aprons from the kitchen and school kitchens are washed, dried, folded, and shipped back out.

    “Every time we do a tour through the central kitchen everybody is always amazed, they’re blown away with amount of production we do, the size of our production, and the amount of work that goes into feeding the kids,” says Lindsey Danner, SPS Nutrition Services Supervisor. ”We like to make our meals scratch-made because we like the idea that we make the food for the kids and we know what’s going in it, how it was made, when it was made, and we think the fresher the food the better.” 

    As a school district, we recognize the important connection between a healthy diet and student’s ability to learn effectively and achieve high standards in school. Providing access for all students to a hot, nutritious, and delicious lunch is also part of the district’s goal of eliminating opportunity gaps and creating an equitable educational experience for all students.

    For the staff who make our students’ meals, they are dedicated to their craft and nothing makes them happier than knowing every child has access to a healthy meal while in the district’s care.

    Here is more information on the district’s Nutrition Services Department, including information on our Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

    Try One of Our School Meals

    If you have a student who has not tried a school meal in a while or not at all… TRY IT! We are convinced you will love the great food our staff prepares and we have a wide range of choices day to day, including egg & cheese muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, yogurt parfait with homemade granola, and much more for breakfast and burritos, hamburgers, pizza, chicken nuggets, tuna melts, beef and broccoli, soup, BBQ, fresh salads, vegetables, fruit, milk, and much more for lunch.   

    Next School Lunch Monday

    Did you know the district prepares meals for kids with specific food allergies and/or special meal requests? We do. Every day staff prepares food in a special allergy-free zone that is specific to individual students' needs. Look for that story next week!


    School Lunch! Did You Know? Seattle Public Schools Nutrition Services from Seattle Public Schools on Vimeo.