September 12th, 2019
Game Grain Changer
The USDA has granted flexibility to schools for the 2019-2020 school year for whole grains, flavored low fat milk and sodium. Pulling back the reigns was purportedly done to help schools overcome the challenges that the HHFKA Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (2010) initially presented. Among those challenges, school lunch providers expressed their concerns over decreased student participation, meeting targets for reducing sodium content and using exclusively whole grains. The “final rule will require that half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich” which offers the... [more]
June 4th, 2019
As part of the Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) Healthy Kids Collaborative, SNP partnered with Northarvest Bean Grower Association to create school recipes using dried and canned beans.
Students had the opportunity to sample our black bean hummus with green pepper triangles, sweet potato and red kidney bean chili, and chicken chili verde with Great Northern white beans. The chicken chili verde knocked it out of the park- students requested seconds and even selected it over a chicken sandwich.
April 2nd, 2019
California is now the world’s fifth largest economy. Despite this concentration of wealth, we have the highest child poverty rate in the nation. In many impoverished neighborhoods, there’s been significant effort to change public education in hopes of empowering and elevating the community. California’s Charter Schools Act of 1992 authorized charter schools as part of the state’s public education, establishing their intention to “provide opportunities” and “increase pupil learning.”.
However, the legislation exempts charter schools from certain laws governing public schools in California; school lunch being one of those exemptions. According to California Food Policy Advocates, “charter schools are California’s only... [more]
March 7th, 2019
March is National Nutrition Month and this year is different in that the month is being honored as its own theme. Going along with this, I’m hoping to bring some nutrition awareness to the impact of daily diet.
Q: What small manageable daily changes can I make to yield big results over time?
Part 1: Make good choices.
Do you religiously pour 2 or more packets of sugar in your coffee in the morning or order your specialty drink flavored? “Vanilla latte” for example? “Caramel macchiato”? Flavored coffee drinks have a shocking amount of added sugar... [more]
January 31st, 2019
SNP has been working with the Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan to improve their food service operation. President Emily Burson and Jason Keegan, VP of Operations, along with colleagues at the Humane Society and School Food and Wellness Group just returned from a trip where they worked with staff, improving efficiency and communication, and teaching them scratch cooked Western recipes.
The Taipei staff was trained on several of SNP’s most popular recipes including Roasted Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta, Chicken Street Burrito, BBQ Pulled Turkey Sandwich, Pineapple Coleslaw with from-scratch... [more]
November 20th, 2018
Chocolate chip cookie dough hummus.
You are saying to yourself one of two things: a) “Definitely YESSSS! That sounds amazing.” or b) “Just no.”
I am here to convince you category b, nay sayers that you are WRONG. Chocolate chip cookie dough hummus is divine. Our planet will thank you too.
Last week SNP conducted a mini workshop and hosted chefs from Forward Food, the Humane Society’s division with the mission of adding more plant-based foods into everyday diets. Food Forward is doing extraordinary work providing resources to food service professionals from schools, hospitals, and restaurants (to... [more]
November 1st, 2018
SNP develops recipes and new items throughout the school year. I’ve written about our process here. Often in R&D, we are flavor driven, exploring ways to menu trending cuisines or flavor profiles.
Sometimes we are ingredient driven. Such is the case with walnuts. SNP has partnered with California Walnuts to pilot a program in some of our schools featuring walnuts. Walnuts, a powerhouse of “good fats”, particularly omega-3 ALA (alpha linolenic acid), can be a substitute for animal proteins or used in conjunction with animal protein to make delicious, nutrient dense... [more]
October 2nd, 2018
Nutrition events are an integral part of what we do at SNP.
While the events may differ, the goal is always the same: bring exposure and awareness to delicious vegetables and get our students to TRY them.
In years past, in addition to our Alphabet Produce Train, we've brought SNP's Epic Green Smoothie and Epic Green Hummus to students throughout Southern California.
This year, we've delveloped and tested several contenders and landed on one we thing is pretty spectacular.
Enter SNP's Rockin' Rainbow Salad...
The mix of colorful jewel tones inspired the name and it may be my favorite salad to... [more]
August 16th, 2018
Summer is over (insert tear drop sad face emoji here!).
While there’s no sign that our hot weather is going anywhere, the long lazy hours at the beach, fun days at water parks, and outrageous county fair food consumption have turned into distant memories just in time for that first school bell to ring. Let’s kiss the relaxed emotional state of mind that summer brings goodbye…for now.
Our chefs have spent their summers working diligently in the R... [more]
June 27th, 2018
What happens when schools stop serving chocolate milk in the cafeteria?
Will students stop drinking milk altogether or will they accept the change, albeit gradually, and eventually make the shift to drinking plain (white) milk?
These were some of the questions researchers tackled in Baltimore, Maryland as they looked closely at the impact of eliminating chocolate milk from cafeterias at several schools throughout the city. The results of their recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics measured student acceptance of plain (white) milk both the year the chocolate milk... [more]
May 31st, 2018
The end of the school year is here. On one hand it’s…Helloooo summer! On the other hand, the finality and closure make me contemplative. Perhaps because it’s tangible evidence that my own children are growing and maturing (slow down, please). Perhaps its somber because friends and colleagues take the natural break as an opportunity to move on, change schools or jobs, or even retire.
I’ll focus on the former since it’s more fun and certainly a good time for SNP to reflect on this whirlwind of a school year.
SNP’s Cookbook, A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria… was... [more]
May 8th, 2018
May’s here and that’s exciting for so many reasons:
May flowers (thank you April showers), Mother’s Day (keep reading for awesome gift giveaway info!), and of course drumroll please…our cookbook has officially been published and released.
We celebrated the launch of “A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria…” last month by hosting a sensational group of bloggers, dietitians, media influencers, school administrators, and people who are doing amazing work in the fields of nutrition, gardening, and school lunch.
The guests were treated to lunch which featured our Alphabet Produce Train.
April 10th, 2018
April 22nd is Earth Day and I love any opportunity to celebrate our planet. With an abundance of accessible information, more people are aware of how their food and lifestyle choices impact the environment. What are we collectively doing about it? At SNP, students eat lunch on reusable trays instead of foam disposable ones. Our central kitchen is energy efficient and employees are encouraged (i.e. gifted) a reusable water bottle. We proudly offer a daily vegetarian option to our students and incorporate fresh seasonal produce into menus. Our themed salad event, the APT is a vegetarian... [more]
March 13th, 2018
March is National Nutrition Month, a month-long campaign focused on educating the public on the importance of informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Initially conceived as National Nutrition Week in 1973, the week became a month-long campaign as interest in nutrition grew in the 80’s. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the professional organization for Registered Dietitians), whose goal is to promote good nutrition and overall healthy lifestyle, chooses an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food” and here are three ways to do just that:
- Go further with... [more]
March 8th, 2018
DG: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
JK: Employees and retention, finding qualified people that enjoy what they’re doing. Also, navigating the NSLP and finding ingredients and developing recipes the kids will eat.
DG: Tell me something fun about your job.
JK: I have freedom to develop and execute my schedule, I get to move around and see the big picture, and help grow the company.
DG: What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
JK: Jambalaya! Instead of seafood, its chicken and sausage, with well-developed flavor. I used to make a gumbo dish at Bar Crudo which inspired this... [more]
February 27th, 2018
Jason Keegan grew up a latch key kid who, by default, began cooking for himself and his sisters. After seven years at Bar Crudo and a stint at Beast and the Hare in San Francisco, he moved to LA to run one of SNP’s school kitchens. Fast forward six years. Jason, now SNP’s Culinary Operations Director oversees all outside operations (kitchens) and provides support and leadership to the entire SNP team.
We crossed paths at SNP’s headquarters and had the opportunity to sit and chat.
Deb Glasser(DG): Where does your love for food and cooking come from?
Jason Keegan(JK):... [more]
February 6th, 2018
National Pizza Day is here, and for me (and subsequently my family) it’s just an excuse to eat more pizza.
About me: I love pizza.
I grew up in Chicago, spent several years in New York, and have lived in LA for over 20 years. Other than Italy, I’ve lived in, IMHO, the best pizza hubs in the world. For the record, eating Margherita pizza in Naples, where pizza is thought to have originated, is on my bucket list.
If I had my druthers, dinner would be a giant slice of Lou Malnati’s spinach and cheese. Chicago style pizza... [more]
January 11th, 2018
SNP works hard to promote “Eat More Greens”. We wear it on our T-shirts, we incorporate greens into our menus, and we build several nutrition events around this mission (i.e. Epic Green Smoothie, Epic Green Hummus).
But Why? What’s so important about eating green vegetables?
Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and arugula are bursting with healthful nutrients. Greens are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, minerals including calcium and potassium and they’re high in fiber. Greens also contain an abundance of powerful phytochemicals that help maintain immune health, good vision and can decrease cholesterol levels. Dietary guidelines... [more]
December 20th, 2017
It’s been an action-packed year, filled with all the events, emotions, triumphs, and tribulations one might expect given our current climate.
We completed our corporate video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uzkvLsySAk or at the top of our website) in hopes of giving both our current and potential clients, students, and their families a sense of what SNP’s mission is as well as providing a glimpse into our day to day processes in preparing and transporting school meals to schools throughout southern California. It was an exciting and rewarding project.
“A Chef Walks Into a Cafeteria…”, our soon to be released cookbook was written, photographed and... [more]
November 7th, 2017
Executive Sous Chef Louis Martinez spent hours upon hours watching Frugal Gourmet as a kid and running to his local library to scour cook books searching for recipes he could handle at age 8. A couple of decades later, he’s knee deep in creating and developing recipes for SNP and was instrumental in the production of SNP’s soon-to-be-released cookbook “A Chef Walks into A Cafeteria…”.
I had an opportunity to tear him away from his kitchen duties and interview him. He’s a surprising person and funny.
Deb Glasser: Where’d you get your start?
Louis Martinez: My mom’s kitchen and... [more]
September 26th, 2017
It’s nearly October (gasp!) and most of us have settled into the routine of the “new” school year: the early morning wakeups, homework schedules, and hustle and bustle of fall activity. Here at SNP, driver routes have been finalized, new items developed by our chefs are popping up on our menus, and nutrition special events are being scheduled.
There are many things that set SNP apart from other school lunch caterers. Certainly, our food is always fresh, nutritious and delicious. Yes, its prepared from scratch. Of course, it meets the NSLP guidelines.
However, at SNP we try to... [more]
August 17th, 2017
Each year, sometime during the first week of August, the entire SNP team meets to review, revise, revitalize, and strategize for the upcoming school year. For many on the team, it’s also a chance to reconnect with friends after summer break and for others it’s the first chance to connect a face to a name.
When we convene, sometimes, an employee is recognized for reaching a milestone employment anniversary. That happened a few weeks ago except it wasn’t just one employee, it was three of us who celebrated five-year anniversaries with SNP. Us. Myself included. I started... [more]
May 30th, 2017
The 2017 school year reaches a close
And with that comes this reflective prose
We are grateful as ever for our students and schools
Working diligently to comply with the Smart Snacks rules
Our fantastic state of the art kitchen was put to the test
Producing new menu items which were met with success
Nachos, calzones, and chicken pot pie
Cuban sandwiches, turkey meatloaf, and some innovative sides
The Alphabet Produce Train visited some sites
While others sampled Green Smoothies to their delight
The SNP video made its debut
Showcasing the talent and all that we do
Summer is upon us, now go out and play
We’ll catch our... [more]
May 2nd, 2017
Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture announced yesterday in a memo titled USDA Commitment to School Meals that the USDA would offer some flexibility to schools across the nation who have “worked diligently to overcome operational challenges”. Meant to assist schools who participate in the NSLP, the proclamation of this easement in menu planning intends to help with providing “nutritious and appealing meals and encourage student participation in the meal programs”.
- USDA will begin the regulatory process of offering schools additional options to serving 100 percent whole grains and will continue to provide States the authority... [more]
April 4th, 2017
The SNP team covets the relationships we have with our schools' administrators, teachers, students, and their parents. We work hard to provide students with fresh, delicious, compliant meals are regularly asked about both our processes and the parameters of the National School Lunch Program.
We thought it woule be beneficial (and fun!) to provide our clients with an informative (and fun!) video deconstructing the complicated nature of school lunch and offering a glimpse into our central kitchen. SNP is committed to scratch cooking using quality ingredients and we hope the video offers some insight into how we... [more]
February 27th, 2017
We are often asked about our menu planning process. How do we manage to provide our students with healthy, innovative, and delicious school menus? It's a cyclical process that involves careful planning, execution, evaluation, & modification.
First, we plan
SNP's combination of culinary expertise and nutrition knowledge is used to create cycle menus that incorporate numerous exciting flavors. Our chefs take into consideration MANY factors that ultimately affect the menu. Quality, cost, and availability of ingredients is paramount when planning. Menus are seasonal and weather patterns impact what is available from our growers and suppliers. For example, this... [more]
January 24th, 2017
Take a look at SNP’s January menus and you might notice new items making an appearance. January’s weather calls for comfort food and we’ve created several fantastic lunches to keep our students cozy and warm during these “cold” winter months. My three favorites (in no particular order):
Turkey Meatloaf, made from scratch, served with mashed potatoes and gravy. A healthier take on this diner classic, the turkey is well seasoned, hand formed in individual portions and baked to perfection. And mashed potatoes and gravy? Who doesn’t love ‘em?
Citrus Chicken with Brown Rice and veggies is destined to... [more]
December 15th, 2016
We are grateful for the support and dedication of our clients and vendors. Each year SNP puts together a holiday gift to express our appreciation. In past years, we’ve done, cookies, cakes, soup mixes, and this year we made granola. Here's the recipe and a glimpse of Chef Louis crafting our SNP Holiday Granola (which is so amazing, it just might be our new holiday tradition).
Wishing all of our SNP friends a happy, healthy, and delicious 2017
November 3rd, 2016
Over the summer my daughter met and fell in love with a cow. In that moment, she swore off eating beef “forever”. I gave it a month. Well, it is November and she has yet to go back on the promise she made to herself. While the rest of us cut into juicy rib-eyes, she opts instead for a turkey burger or grilled chicken breast. I applaud and support her ethical convictions and tell her frequently.
Many of the students we feed do not eat any meat or simply prefer a meatless meal on occasion.
We proudly offer... [more]
September 1st, 2016
There’s no tiptoeing into the school year.
It’s like going for a swim in the Pacific Ocean: hold your breath, close your eyes, and dive in.
Once you catch your breath and wipe the salt water from your eyes, there’s that wonderful moment that hits you. You take it all in and remember how delightful it is to just float in the ocean. Sure, there are waves. But those always pass. And the sheer joy of the salty beach air, soft sand and tranquil blue water resonates.
The SNP team has dived right into the 2016-2017 school year.
Our kitchen is bustling and the... [more]
April 5th, 2016
We’ve been waiting with baited breath to tell everyone our little secret. Okay, it’s not “little”. It’s actually a 10,000 square foot secret and houses our new command center including a state-of-the-art kitchen facility and our corporate offices. And we are excited to put it to work.
The last nine months have been spent transforming an empty shell of a warehouse into a modern commissary kitchen with the capacity to produce thirty thousand meals per day and to service schools throughout all of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. One of only several kitchens this size built in Los Angeles in... [more]
March 8th, 2016
The Alphabet Produce Train has officially pulled out of the station and the SNP train crew is elated! We have worked tirelessly to produce this year’s event, designing and engineering an old fashion steam engine replica complete with fruit and vegetable details AND creating a menu that highlights 26 amazing fruits and vegetables. The Alphabet Produce Train (APT), SNP’s premiere nutrition special event, is a train themed salad bar. Students are served salads that include items from every letter of the alphabet, serving as a nutrition platform by encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption. Our students get to “board the train”... [more]
January 19th, 2016
The rain is here (aloha, El Nino) and so are the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. Released every five years, the Guidelines help shape what Americans eat (or at least are “supposed” to eat) over the next five years by informing “the development of Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs”. The Guidelines are particularly important to the school nutrition community because they will undoubtedly influence the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the reauthorization of the Health and Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), happening any day.
So, what do these Guidelines say? What are we “supposed” to eat? What are we... [more]
December 11th, 2015
With only a few weeks left of 2015 (yikes!) the SNP chefs and crew are busy preparing holiday feasts for the students, faculty, and administration at our schools. Amidst the hustle and bustle of it all I had the chance to sneak into the kitchens and ask our staff to take a moment and reflect on what the holidays look like, feel like, and taste like for them. The responses, mostly family centered, reminded me that SNP is one big family with a one common goal. Everything we do is to ensure the students we feed are happy and getting... [more]
November 12th, 2015
Halloween has come and gone and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. There’s a chill in the air and our students are “bundled up” as they make their way to school (Note: as a girl who spent the first 17 years of my life in Chicago, I feel compelled to use quotes around bundled up-we are in Southern California after all). Venture into any of the SNP kitchens and the season is reflected in our menus. At many of our schools we are now serving chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, as well as hearty stews.
The SNP... [more]
September 15th, 2015
First day of school? Cue the requisite “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” project. For my second grader, this took the shape of a paper cut out of over-sized sunglasses with instruction to write a favorite summer experience on each lens. She wrote of our family trip to the Midwest to see grandparents (chock-full of fireflies and thunderstorms-both of which are anomalies to my California girls) and on the other lens, she gushed about her experience at science camp and the solar system project she tackled. Her excitement over the moon specifically was palpable.
With the knowledge that our R... [more]
January 6th, 2014
Did you hear that School Nutrition Plus is serving up meals cooked from scratch? We are very excited about it, and have found that scratch cooking is highly valuable in our mission to provide healthy, delicious, and nutritious meals for our students. Some students are even saying that the food we serve “tastes like home.”
Scratch cooking provides endless benefits in the form of a home cooked experience.
For starters, our students are constantly introduced to new foods and flavor profiles
Chef Louis: Here, try my homemade Ravioli…
Kids: No way!
Chef Louis: But it’s like inside out pizza!
Sounds like fun, right? Getting children... [more]
June 13th, 2013
La Canada Elementary Schools and SNP just finished their annual Alphabet Produce Train salad bar event featuring vegetables and fruit from every letter of the alphabet. The students were excited to participate and the day was a resounding success. “Can we do this again tomorrow?” asked a 5th grader.
First things first, and because this is by far the most popular FAQ…
Q: “What’s “X”?
A: Why Xtra Fancy Squash of course!
This year we were thrilled to be featuring a blend of roasted and raw veggies and fresh and dried fruit on our salad bar. Particularly scrumptious thanks to SNP Executive Sous Chef... [more]