Colorado district focuses on sourcing local ingredients and menu items

With roughly 68,000 students, the Nutrition Services Department for Douglas County School District (CO) is quite busy, especially with their vast efforts to incorporate local ingredients on menus!

As the new school year approaches, planning for an open house is underway to showcase the Douglas County Schools’ Nutrition Program. Manager of Menu Services Amy Faricy describes the open house as a “mini food show,” featuring many of the food vendors used by the district’s schools.

Vendors are able to show Douglas County School (CO) students and parents what they have to offer for healthy, local school meals.

The vendors will show their various products, some offering up samples. In the past, upwards of 20 vendor booths participated and gathered feedback from parents and students. Last year, the district’s Sustainability Department also set up a booth, and talked about composting, school gardens and the inside garden towers used in Douglas County.

The district participates in  Colorado Proud, a program within the state’s Department of Agriculture, which encourages  buying locally grown, raised and processed food and agricultural products.

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A Colorado Proud School Meal Day is typically held in September, with menu items like pulled pork sandwich, with roasted carrots and a fruit salad bar – all from Colorado.

One of the recent Douglas County Schools’ favorites, according to Faricy, was the introduction of the “pupusa,” a Salvadorian torilla made from cornmeal dough. Faricy described the dish as a corn muffin patty, stuffed with either black beans and cheese or zucchini and cheese, topped with a local green chili.

“There’s a local Colorado business that hand makes the pupusas, using non-GMO and all Colorado-sourced ingredients,” said Faricy. “It was such a great way to celebrate the diversity in our state and enjoy something that was locally made by hand. It really took off and the kids enjoyed it so much that we now offer it almost year-round. Exposing kids to new and exciting foods that they wouldn’t necessarily find at home, I think that’s a good thing.”

A Salvadorian “pupusa,” made from scratch with all Colorado sourced ingredients.

According to Faricy, some of the favorite Colorado Proud menu items are cycled throughout the school year. Other Colorado Proud options have included chicken taco bowls, made with local ingredients – chicken, green chili, cilantro and tomatoes, and burgers – using all local meats and vegetables, etc.

‘We don’t have a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables that grow in our state, so it’s nice to feature what we can,” she said. “This past School Meal Day, tamales were offered. I’m not sure if the students knew what to do with them at first, but they seemed to enjoy them.”

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