Students at Poudre School District mountain schools have been enjoying school meals this year thanks to new commercial kitchens installed at the schools last summer, just in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year. Previously, students brought their lunches from home to Livermore, Red Feather Lakes, and Stove Prairie elementary schools.
Tom Schachet, principal of the three schools, said families are thrilled to have this new service. Having a fully functional space to prepare meals has had a significant, positive impact on the students and community.
“When I was hired in 2017, I quickly realized that food security was, and is, a concern in our mountain communities. Parents were vocal about the need for a breakfast/lunch program, and as a new principal, it became one of my top initiatives,” said Tom. “As I began to bring proposals to PSD executive leadership and the Board of Education, they were very supportive of helping to fulfill this need for our students and community. After several years of collaboration, proposals, county approvals, and planning, we finally broke ground last summer, and major construction began to renovate each of our three PSD mountain schools.”
After construction was completed in fall 2020, three child nutrition managers were hired, and the schools began serving healthy breakfasts and lunches to students. Between 60 to 80 students participate each day in the meal program at each of the schools.
“We are so thankful for the years of support and the collaboration of so many to make this possible for our students and community,” he said.
Benefits of having a school kitchen:
- Having hot breakfasts and lunches available to students every day
- Fresh veggies or fruit are available daily
- Special dietary needs are provided for
- It’s convenient for families to have meals available at schools
- The kitchen managers are part of each school community. “
Parents shared their appreciation for the kitchens and nutritious school meals now available to their children.
“The new kitchen has been a game-changer for Livermore. The students absolutely love having breakfast and hot lunch every day. Fruits and vegetables are provided with meals as well as nutritional education. Our family couldn’t be happier with how it turned out,” said Wendy Pryor, a parent at Livermore Elementary.
“Having the new kitchen and child nutrition services available at Stove Prairie puts our students on a more level playing field with students in other PSD schools. There is quite a bit of food insecurity in our mountain community, and access to nutritious meals is a vital service our students have needed for a long time,” said Taylor Hubbard, Stove Prairie parent. “Now that healthy meals are available to our students, they can focus on learning and doing their personal best, no longer worrying where their next meal is coming from. We are so thankful PSD chose to invest in our students by outfitting our school with a commercial kitchen, making food insecurity one less obstacle for our students to overcome.”
“The new kitchen in Red Feather is a relief for me as a parent. I know my kids are getting hot, nutritious meals that keep their bellies full and enable them to focus on learning. It also encourages them to try new foods that they wouldn’t be willing to try at home,” said Ashley Johnson, a parent at Red Feather. “Having kitchens at all our mountain schools is important for our rural communities.”