Food Services’ fresh, hot meals take the cake
Food and Child Nutrition Services is making the transition from prepackaged foods back to fresh, hot meals, and Executive Chef Trina Nelson could not be more excited about it.
“During the pandemic, Dallas ISD never stopped feeding students—we just had to figure out a safe way to do it,” Nelson said. “We came up with the idea of prepackaged meals to get them through, but after so long, the kids are ready for something different. Now that school is moving to full swing, we have a huge opportunity to get back into cooking at the campuses.”
The FCNS team tested out several new “back to scratch recipes” with students last year and developed delicious new entrees based on their positive feedback, including Swedish meatballs over rice, cheesy taco pasta, “build your own” lunch bowls in high schools and smothered burritos.
These fresh meals will be served at every school across the district this year to provide students with fresher, tastier food and to overcome supply chain issues.
“The past two years of supply chain chaos amid the COVID-19 pandemic significantly limited our access to reliable supplies of both food and non-food items alike,” said Michael Rosenberger, executive director of FCNS. “In expectation of improvements in the still-damaged supply chain, we are implementing new fresh-cooked meals across the district this school year.”
To ensure the transition runs smoothly, Nelson and her team of chef coordinators hosted “new recipes” training classes for cafeteria supervisors over the past two weeks. Not only did staff members get to see how these new meals are prepared, but they also tried them so they know what each one is supposed to taste and look like.
“We have tested these recipes to where they’re foolproof,” Nelson said. “So when they get back to their schools, they will be ready to jump right in and get their kids fed.”
FCNS will continue working to expand their fresh food options throughout the new school year by piloting items like salad bars and theme lines, where students can choose between a pizza line, a homestyle line or a heritage line. The taste tests they have completed so far have been positive, with students giving their new meal options a “thumbs up.”
“Nothing beats healthy, fresh meals cooked by loving hands on the day of service,” Rosenberger said. “We invite students and staff alike to their school kitchens for delicious meals!”