A Pinch of Scratch is a Dash of Home by Sarah Lippman, Dietetic Intern
January 6, 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!

Kids: Hooray!

Sounds like fun, right?  Getting children to eat new foods like fruits and veggies or whole grains is undoubtedly a challenge but with scratch-cooked meals, all of the sudden they are paying attention to what they’re eating because it’s new and exciting, and hey they might actually like it! This has helped promote their interest in fruits and vegetables and has increased their willingness to embrace meals they’ve never seen before, including different ethnic cuisines. 

Our team of chefs can also reap the benefits of scratch cooking as they are afforded the opportunity to control their own ingredients, including the use of fresh herbs, spices, and seasonings. This allows them to enhance taste and flavor as they comply with the National School Lunch Program regulations, which include strict limitations on sodium, calories, and the inclusion of vegetables according to specific color groups.  If you think this sounds complicated, you’re not alone.  We really must applaud the team that helps us manage the program and keep us on track!

The meals served through School Nutrition Plus may be the only ‘home cooked meals’ that these students experience.  We strive to set an example by providing healthy and creative meals that might even inspire our students to learn basic cooking skills so that they can prepare home cooked meals as well.  At the end of the day, scratch cooking goes far beyond a nutritious meal.  It provides an amazing opportunity to influence lifelong dietary choices that encourage the notion that real food starts fresh and is prepared at home.