A REAL first at Boul­der schools

Dis­trict’s food prac­tices earn cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Amy Bounds

boul­der» Boul­der Val­ley is the first public school dis­trict in the coun­try cer­ti­fied by the United States Health­ful Food Coun­cil for its com­mit­ment to health­ful and sus­tain­able food ser­vice prac­tices.

The dis­trict earned the coun­cil’s “Re­spon­si­ble Epi­curean and Agri­cul­tural Lead­er­ship,” or REAL, cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“We stand for re­ally healthy food, clean in­gre­di­ents and know­ing our sourc­ing,” said Ann Cooper, Boul­der Val­ley’s food ser­vices direc­tor. “It’s easy to say these things, but within the world of school food there’s noth­ing to re­ally show­case that we go above the stan­dards.”

She said the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is the re­sult of eight years of work on its school lunch pro­gram, made pos­si­ble by the com­mit­ment of the school board and the su­per­in­ten­dent. “It re­ally does speak to the work that we do,” she said.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion orig­i­nally was given to restau­rants in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and is mod­eled af­ter the en­vi­ron­men­tal LEED cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, said Melissa Rouse, spokes­woman for the United States Health­ful Food Coun­cil.

More re­cently, the coun­cil has started cer­ti­fy­ing cor­po­rate and univer­sity kitchens, she said, while Boul­der Val­ley is its first school dis­trict.

“There are a lot of peo­ple rid­ing the green wave, but not nec­es­sar­ily do­ing all the things they’re preach­ing,” she said. “We want to let their con­sumers know that they’re mak­ing these ex­tra ef­forts.”

Boul­der Val­ley pre­pares ap­prox­i­mately 13,000 meals daily, with an em­pha­sis on lo­cal and or­ganic in­gre­di­ents and salad bars in ev­ery school. The dis­trict spends about 25 per­cent of its $300,000 food bud­get on Colorado pro­duce and meat.

To earn the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, Boul­der Val­ley was au­dited by a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian.

The au­dit found the dis­trict ex­celled in food prepa­ra­tion, not­ing the fo­cus on cook­ing from scratch, us­ing only plant-based oils and in­cor­po­rat­ing healthy cook­ing prac­tices.

The au­dit also praised the dis­trict’s menu for go­ing “above and be­yond USDA re­quire­ments,” in­clud­ing nix­ing fla­vored milk, not of­fer­ing juice in el­e­men­tary schools and pro­vid­ing “a plethora of fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles.”

In the lead­er­ship cat­e­gory, the dis­trict earned 95 per­cent of the avail­able points in recog­ni­tion of mak­ing sure wa­ter is avail­able to stu­dents, of­fer­ing a veg­e­tar­ian op­tion daily and us­ing sus­tain­able trays, plates and cups.

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