Q: Does CKC offer menus complying with USDA guidelines set by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA)?
A: Yes! We offer multiple, 6-week menu rotations that comply with the USDA's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Across K-12 age categories, we have more than 100 total weeks of USDA-compliant lunch menus, all of which 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 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 offer?
A: Each day, schools can offer a hot entrée and deli sandwich, with and without salad bar, as well as freshly made deli salads, a vegetarian entree and an entree free of allergens.
Q: Do you have dinner, or evening meals available?
A: Yes! CKC provides at-risk, after-school meals and snacks for many schools and youth enrichment programs. Some of these we service directly, others coordinate their meal programs through Youthprise Nutrition Services.
Q: How did CKC adapt its service procedures for COVID-19?
A: We adjusted almost every process of the past 30 years for COVID-19. The type of food we procured, its preparation and our service model shifted. From day one of school closings, CKC led the industry and our clients on best practices for feeding remote learners. On March 16, 2020,, schools in Minnesota were closed. On March 17, we outlined for our clients our emergency menus and procedures for meal bundling and distribution. Anticipating a potential for widespread school closings and a shift to distance learning, CKC ordered massive quantities of food suitable for sending home with scholars ahead of school closings. Our instincts allowed us to pack and distribute more than 40,000 meals on Wednesday, March 18, and fill a gap in the food system for many kids. As the food service provider to Youthprise, a nonprofit organization serving meals across the Twin Cities, we provided an additional 50,000 meals a week for Saint Paul Public Schools.
In a short period of time, CKC created multiple menus for our schools, including heat-and-serve items and weekly grocery menus with recipes for families to follow in preparing meals. We have continued to create a variety of menus for our schools to minimize menu fatigue. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have provided over 13 million meals (and counting!) and enabled our schools to remain connected to their scholars and be a lifeline in the midst of chaos and increased food insecurity.
Q: What safety COVID-19 safety procedures has CKC implemented?
A: In addition to our own protocols, we closely followed CDC safety requirements for essential workers. From March 2020 through the 2020-21 school year, cafeterias not being used for serving scholars became assembly areas where our employees could social distance while packing bundled meals. Our already strict cleaning protocols intensified. All employees were required to mask. We created an extensive COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that guided our procedures as well as our clients’ operations. CKC’s organization and 30 years’ experience allowed us to quickly adapt to changing guidelines and circumstances and guide our clients in keeping their food service operations running smoothly and feeding as many kids as possible.
Q: What support has CKC provided to its clients during COVID-19?
A: Our relationships, communications and 30 years of processes and experience ensured we could continue feeding our schools’ scholars from the first week schools were closed. Most of the schools we serve do not have the means to deliver meals to their scholars. We helped schools safely and efficiently implement weekly distribution days, when families could pick up their meal bundles at school. As schools got word out to their communities, meal distribution days were packed with families picking up food for their kids. In addition, our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan was instrumental to our client schools and their food service operations.
Q: What types of menu items are on CKC’s COVID-19 Seamless Summer Option Menus?
A: With schools teaching in-person again this fall, we have brought back many of our hot lunch favorites and our multiple 6-week menu rotations. This year’s menus include hot lunch, deli salads, vegetarian, allergen-free, field trip, pizza and salad bar menus. Check out our sample menu items and the food photos located throughout our website.
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: 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: How does CKC accommodate students with food allergies/sensitivities?
A: In addition to offering a vegetarian menu, our allergen-free menu accommodates kids who are gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free and egg-free. This menu is prepared by one chef in an environment that limits the potential for cross contamination.
Q: Does CKC 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: What training does CKC provide for our school's 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 to teach schools about the requirements needed to offer a successful school 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: Yes! The Minnesota Department of Education and the federal government hold the school, or School Food Authority (SFA), completely responsible for understanding the rules and regulations regarding the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the accurate and timely implementation of all NSLP 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 generously shares our expertise in school food service programs to keep your program running smoothly and in compliance with the USDA guidelines. At least once a month, our Field Operations 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 on short notice?
A. Very simple. We're experts in commodities and can work with your school to ensure a fast and smooth transition. Call us to see how quickly we can make the switch for your school: 651.453.1136.
Q: What experience does CKC have managing onsite kitchens?
A: CKC currently manages 12 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 food-certified staff, according to contract specifications. We support our onsite staff with ongoing training and regular visits by our Field Operations and management team members.
Q: What support does CKC 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.