Between preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, school nutrition professionals have a lot on their plates.
School districts all over Maine, while operating within very tight budgets, are working hard to include as much locally grown foods as possible into their menus. RSU 9 School Nutrition Director Andy Hutchins, worked closely with local pizza dough manufacturer “It’ll Be Pizza” in Scarborough and foodservice specialist Lee Walker from Sysco, to create a pizza dough recipe that meets the expectations of today’s students while meeting the USDA’s nutritional requirements for school nutrition programs.
Not only did Hutchins work with It’ll Be Pizza to develop this dough specifically for use at RSU 9, but the dough will also be sold through the district’s regular food distributor, enabling the opportunity for expansion to other districts in the future. RSU 9 will be the first school district in Maine to offer this healthy and local pizza option to its students, with hope for growth throughout Maine schools in the future.
“I am humbled and thankful to work with such great partners who have helped make this project a reality,” said Chef Hutchins. “It took some trial and error and a great deal of effort but in the end we have a fantastic product that is made right here in Maine, by Maine workers, using Maine grown grains. Having it stocked for sale by a major distributor closes the loop and makes it sustainable all the way from the farm to the fork.”
All RSU 9 school cafeterias participate in the Let’s Go! 5210 program and carry out a Smarter Lunchroom model where the healthy choice is made the easy choice. With the addition of this locally sourced whole grain pizza dough option, RSU 9 cafeterias continue to carry out this model. Hutchins is also a strong component of the RSU 9 Farm to School Workgroup and continues to find new opportunities and ideas in exposing students to local foods and farms.
To learn more about the Let’s Go! model carried out in Maine school cafeterias, including RSU 9 cafeterias, view the following short video.