CKC Good Food is ready to make 2022-2023 a great school year!
We are excited to have 23 new schools join us this fall. That’s the most contracts we’ve ever added in a single school year – and it’s only possible because of the additional capacity of our new central commissary. In so many ways, our new facility has been a godsend!
We have been training much of the summer. We held two ServSafe classes to help 23 people secure their Food Safety Manager Certifications. We cross trained our central commissary staff, which will ensure someone can fill in when an employee is absent, helping minimize disruptions and workflow challenges.
All our new schools recently participated in onboarding training to learn about USDA guidelines and CKC procedures and are ready to get rolling.
To help accommodate our new clients, we’ve hired about 15 employees for our central commissary and have kept many of our client schools’ previous employees. We’ve also had schools connect us with parents who want to get involved in school meals. We’ve been training these groups throughout the summer.
This week, our in-school and central kitchen staffs are training on new procedures and menu changes to be ready for the first day of full production next week. Drivers are doing dry runs of their routes to familiarize themselves with clients’ locations, road construction and alternate routes.
There are always little adjustments that need to be made at the start of a new school year but we’re confident 2022-2023 will go smoothly.
Each school year, CKC refreshes our menus with new main entrees, which helps keep returning students engaged and give us the chance to incorporate new food trends. The new entrees are all taste tested by students and school staff members who participated in the previous spring’s taste tests. New entrees on our menus this fall were those that received the most positive feedback during our spring taste tests: Greek nachos, pomodoro meatballs, chicken alfredo, chicken tinga, Mongolian stir fry, sheet pan chicken (curried, with and without veggies) and BBQ/plain sloppy joes. (New entrees are featured in our next blog post!)
Once we know what new entrees we will offer, then we need to shuffle our menu weeks to incorporate those entrees. We then confirm the new weeks for nutritional compliance and Jeanne Hopkins, R.D., our Registered Dietitian, certifies our menus to USDA nutritional guidelines.
CKC is continually monitoring updates from the USDA and the Minnesota Department of Education. The most significant updates from USDA are the discontinuation of free meals for all students (see below for free resources to help communicate this to parents) and the return to National School Lunch Program meal pattern and guidelines. The emergency waivers in place during the pandemic have expired and were not renewed.
To lessen the anticipated drop in revenues for schools, the Keep Kids Fed Act has raised the reimbursement rate for school meals considerably, even for paid students, and increased the commodities earned per reimbursed meal to $.43. For schools with more than 60% of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch, the per-meal reimbursement rate is as high as $4.55 in Minnesota.
USDA is warning of significant challenges procuring certain food ingredients as well as trays, forks and other supplies. There are several factors contributing to these supply chain issues, including weather in other parts of the world and labor challenges.
In anticipation of these procurement concerns, CKC has new procedures for breakfast and paper deliveries. We have also stocked up on paper products and many of our often-used ingredients, which will help minimize substitutions and give manufacturers time to get caught up. That is the beauty of having our massive new warehouse for storage!
Our procurement and warehouse teams are monitoring the supply chain and our inventories daily to anticipate any shortages well in advance. We will work with our distribution partners to minimize disruptions and provide our clients with the service they’ve come to expect.
On a recent tour of our Eagan facility, a guest commented, “What you guys are doing is amazing! We had no idea food service was this important!”
Boy, that’s a message we wish every school would hear! We appreciate working with so many clients who embrace this notion rather than seeing school meals as a distraction from learning. Without school meals, kids are distracted from learning!
We also want kids to value good, nutritious food and understand more about school meals.
That’s why we encourage school groups to visit CKC for a tour and to learn about school meals, nutritional guidelines, careers in food service and to take part in a taste test. Several groups visited last spring and helped us choose new entrees for our menus this fall. Contact your field operations manager or call us at 651.453.1136 to coordinate a visit.
We are looking forward to a great year!