LiveWell@School Food Initiative Gets a Commendable Grade

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By Maren Stewart; President and CEO of LiveWell Colorado- Denver
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LiveWell Colorado recently conducted an evaluation of the LiveWell@School Food Initiative to determine its impact on eight participating school districts and the results are quite promising.

The goal of the LiveWell@School Food Initiative is to ensure all children in Colorado have access to and choose healthy food at school by 2022. After all, with more than 800,000 students enrolled in Colorado’s 178 school districts, schools can act as our natural ally in the fight against childhood obesity.

To meet this goal, LiveWell Colorado aims to build the capacity of schools to obtain, prepare and serve fresh, healthy and delicious student meals through a multi-faceted approach using three critical components:

  • School Meal Assessment Reports evaluate a district’s current food service department operations to provide specific recommendations to transition to scratch cooking;
  • Culinary Workshops provide professional culinary training to help food service staff learn how to eliminate or greatly reduce amounts of added salt, sugars, fats and other additives; and,
  • On-Site Chef Consultant services provide on-going training and support to help school districts plan, prepare and serve scratch-cooked students meals in their own kitchens.

Successful change is clearly underway in these districts, which represent a total of 225 schools with a combined enrollment of 120,000 students. For example, the participating districts transitioned from collectively serving 90 to 100 percent processed foods before participation to now serving 65 to 95 percent scratch-cooked foods, with little or no processed ingredients. This is just one of the numerous results that confirm the participating school districts are positioned to successfully transition and maintain their kitchens to prepare healthy, tasty students meals.

This work would not be possible without funding from our partner, the Colorado Health Foundation, and we are excited to launch a new fundraising campaign to help generate additional funding in order to reach our goal by 2022.  We are deeply grateful to Rob Katz and Elana Amsterdam for their transformation leadership gift to support our LiveWell@School Food Initiative and are eager to leverage it in the future.

I encourage you to learn more about our evaluation results and also find out what’s happening in the school kitchens in your area. Together, we can ensure a bright healthy future for our kids.

 

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