Cafeteria food is undergoing a major health makeover in Colorado. Thanks to federal stimulus dollars and Colorado Health Foundation funding, Colorado could be the first state where leaders from every school district learn to cook from scratch and implement healthier cooking techniques into their school cafeterias.
The "School Chef Culinary Bootcamps" are coordinated by LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit known for promoting healthy eating and active living. The bootcamps have New York chefs Andrea Martin and Kate Adamick teaching food service and nutrition directors from across Colorado how to make healthier, lower fat foods.
Each camp is a five-day course of hands-on training designed to teach schools how to prepare fresh, from-scratch meals for students. The program is free and registration is open to school food or nutrition service directors. The Colorado Springs District 11 camp is planned for June 14 through June 18 at Coronado High School. While this bootcamp is full, registration is still available for the Montrose County School District camp, July 12 to 16 at Montrose High School.
Renovating cafeteria kitchens with equipment to roast chicken rather than thaw french fries could cost a lot, especially when some districts are struggling to just pay teachers. Luckily, each participating district receives a $1,000 grant for kitchen equipment to begin implementing the new techniques.
Even though Colorado boasts the title of least obese state in the nation, according to the Colorado Health Foundation, 27 percent of kids ages 10 to 17 are obese or overweight. Only 8 percent get the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables.