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California school district improves scratch-cooking program during pandemic

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By the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the student nutrition department of Vacaville Unified School District had transitioned two of its heat-and-serve kitchens into scratch-cooking hubs, the better to serve its 13,000 students. They had also forged relationships with local farms and started making progress on nutrition goals, such as limiting sugars.

While many school districts experienced setbacks to similar programs when the pandemic closed schools, Juan Cordon, director of student nutrition, says he felt driven to continue delivering scratch meals to students.

The combi ovens, tilt skillets, blast chillers and other kitchen equipment and technology they added—plus the time and resources to train staff to use it—are seen by the district as a worthwhile investment, not only for the long term but because it’s helped families weather this unpredictable year.

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