SPOKANE, Wash. --- Schools in Spokane have a new plan for making sure students get healthy, well-balanced meals during the day: kitchen staff cook everything from scratch.
In fact, 26 public schools in Spokane now serve meals cooked from scratch. Spokane Public Schools officials said a $1 million grant from the Empire Health Foundation helped school kitchens throughout the district switch to healthy and clean lunches.
On Thursday at Spokane Public Montessori School it was pizza day, but the food was definitely a far cry from an average frozen pizza.
“We got the dough from the Palouse and it’s actually milled from right here in the Valley,” said Mindy Cass, the kitchen manager. “We make our own sauce.”
She said she was on the ground floor when they began making meals from scratch for hot lunch. They use local ingredients and no preservatives or additives.
“It’s very important to me because I know these kids are getting the best quality food they can possibly get,” said Cass.
Mark Oswalt, the Nuturition Services Supervisor for the district said the grant from the Empire Health Foundation helped to pay for new equipment, training and marketing. In two years, the district introduced 26 schools to the scratch cooking method.
“The first year was a lot of learning for all of us as a group,” Oswalt said. “We added on our 16 schools this year. We already had a good start, but we are still fine tuning the program.”
District officials said they serve about 8,000 meals a day from scratch. That is out of the 15,000 meals a day served across Spokane Public Schools. Oswalt said half of their lunch entrees are clean label products, while the other half are made from scratch in their kitchens.
SPS officials said they hope to have every school in the district, all 47 of them, cooking from scratch by next fall.
“The better that they get fed, the better they are going to be in school,” explained Cass.
UPDATE: After this story aired, some viewers on Facebook asked for a full list of the schools currently participating in the program. SPS provided the list below:
Scratch kitchen started in 2015/2016
The Community School
Scratch kitchen started in 2016/2017
(© 2016 KREM)