Q: What does "CKC" stand for?
A: Our founder, Nancy Close, is from the restaurant family behind St. Paul’s former Caravan Serai, the first Afghan restaurant in the United States. Nancy grew up in, and eventually bought, that business, which birthed "Caravan Kids Catering."
Q: Does CKC Good Food offer menus complying with USDA guidelines set by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA)?
A: Yes! We offer 6-week menu rotations that comply with the USDA's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Across preK-12 age categories, our menus include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and age-appropriate main entrees that kids love. We also offer Latino-influenced, Hmong-influenced and Somali-influenced menu rotations for National School Lunch Program schools serving students predominantly of those cultural backgrounds. Check out samples of our menus or request a taste test today!
Q: How many daily lunch options does CKC Good Food offer?
A: CKC Good Food provides multiple daily lunch options: a hot entrée, a cold entrée, deli salad, and a vegetarian entree, all with or without a salad bar. Allergen-free lunches are also available. How many of these options you provide at your site is up to you and the limitations of your space, equipment and staffing.
Q: Do you have dinner/evening meals available?
A: Yes! CKC Good Food can provide any meal or snack service needed, seven days a week, as we do for Girl Scouts River Valleys summer camps. We also provide at-risk, after-school meals and snacks for many schools and youth enrichment programs operating under the CACFP. Some of these we service directly, others coordinate their meal programs through a program sponsor. If your enrichment program seeks a sponsor through which to administer your food program, contact us.
Q: Do you work with local farmers and agriculture providers?
A: CKC Good Food has made great strides increasing the amount of locally sourced products in our menus the past several years. In as much as the Minnesota growing climate allows, we source lettuces, onions, broccoli, cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, apples, carrots, zucchini, squash, potatoes, etc., from producers within 200 miles, including the Hmong American Farmers Association. CKC Good Food also works with our mainline distributor, Upper Lakes Foods, and specialty distributors to buy from local producers such as Sponsel’s Orchard in Jordan, Pahl’s Market in Apple Valley, Axdahl’s Garden Farm and Greenhouse in the St. Croix Valley, Fruit Acres in La Crescent and more.
Q: Does CKC Good Food conform to the Buy American Act?
A: We work with our distributor, Upper Lakes Foods, to honor the Buy American Act. Buying American produce, proteins, grains and dairy products assures our foods meet inspection and safety protocols set forth by the federal government while supporting the American economy. All of our proteins and the majority of our other foods originate in the U.S. Sometimes availability and pricing, however, require us to use produce grown outside the U.S. For example, the demand for pineapple or bananas, which are very popular with students, far exceeds the amount grown domestically.
Q: Do you have organic menu options?
A: Yes, we do have organic menu options available. Because we purchase organic foods in smaller quantities and these ingredients are priced higher than traditionally grown foods, there is an additional charge for this service. Please contact us for more details: 651.453.1136.
Q: Does CKC Good Food offer Halal or Kosher products in its menus for federal nutrition programs?
A: Every ingredient we use for our child nutrition program menus must have a Child Nutrition Label or a Product Formulation Statement for meals to qualify for federal reimbursement. Currently, we know of no manufacturer/producer that has Halal or Kosher foods with USDA-approved Child Nutrition Labels or Product Formulation Statements. There are a very limited number of raw meat products (not Halal or Kosher) that have approved Child Nutrition labels. Given the risk of food-borne illness, CKC Good Food is not comfortable using these products in our menus. We continue asking manufacturers for Halal and Kosher products approved for use in federal nutrition programs and will consider those products when they become available.
Halal and Kosher products are, of course, available in the market. For private food service programs, we can discuss these options with you and whether your program can support the increased costs associated with these products.
Q: How does CKC Good Food accommodate food allergies/sensitivities?
A: In addition to offering a vegetarian menu, our allergen-free menu minimizes risks associated with allergies to gluten, tree nuts (peanuts), soy, shellfish, dairy and eggs. This menu is prepared by one chef in an environment that limits the potential for cross contamination.
Q: What training does CKC Good Food provide for our food service staff?
A: CKC Good Food provides annual training classes and ongoing guidance on food prep and service procedures, USDA Administrative Review (compliance audit) requirements, the definition of a reimbursable meal, reports and logs, food safety protocols and more. The Minnesota Department of Education also offers complementary classes and webinars on running a successful food service program.
Q: If we have a food service vendor or food service management company working with us, do we need to take part in regular training classes?
A: If you operate under a federal nutrition program, like the National School Lunch Program, yes! The Minnesota Department of Education and the federal government hold you completely responsible for understanding the rules and regulations regarding the National School Lunch Program and the accurate and timely implementation of all federal policies. You - not your vendor or food service management company - are responsible if there are problems with your food service program. But that doesn't mean you're alone! CKC Good Food generously shares our expertise to keep your program running smoothly and in compliance with the USDA guidelines. At least once a month, our Client Services Managers visit every client site to answer questions and provide suggestions for running your program successfully.
Q: How hard is it to transition both food service and commodities from our current vendor to CKC Good Food on short notice?
A. Very simple. We're experts in commodities and can work with you to ensure a fast and smooth transition. Call us to see how quickly we can make the switch: 651.453.1136.
Q: What experience does CKC Good Food have managing onsite kitchens?
A: We currently manage 10 onsite kitchens, each of which operates with respect, a positive attitude, cleanliness and well-understood procedures to ensure harmony in shared spaces. We staff each site with trained and ServSafe-certified staff, according to contract specifications. We support our onsite staff with ongoing training and regular visits by our Client Services Managers and management team members.
Q: What support does CKC Good Food provide for development of school wellness policies?
A: We will gladly work with your student, staff and parent committees to develop your wellness policies, and provide our food service accordingly. We also provide resources to ensure your serving procedures, wellness policy, and healthy eating and lifestyle education requirements are being met.