Taking Advantage of an Agricultural Bounty
Asked why Greeley-Evans School District 6 goes to the trouble of preparing thousands of meals every day – from scratch – Danielle Bock, the district’s Nutrition Services Director, doesn’t hesitate. “Greeley is in the ninth largest agricultural district in the country,” she says. “We just asked ourselves: Why are we purchasing frozen, prepared slices of cheese pizza, heating them, and serving them to our kids? Why aren’t we using the products that we have locally?”
Weld County already has commercial-scale operations producing onions, potatoes, carrots, and pinto beans, she explains, as well as smaller farmers growing things like tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and peppers year-round. And it isn’t just fresh fruits and vegetables; it’s also local beef, chicken, and pork. In fact, 98 percent of the dairy products the district serves come from local farms.
For Danielle and her team, it’s a no-brainer: Greeley kids deserve real food. Plus, she adds, scratch-made meals provide the opportunity to reinvest in the community. “We’re either paying Tyson factory workers in New York to create chicken nuggets for us,” she says, “or we’re putting that money in the hands of local growers.”
“We have this amazing abundance,” says Bock. “All we did was decide to take full advantage of it.”
Now Serving: Homemade Bean & Cheese Burritos
How local is local? And what does “from scratch” mean, exactly?
School District 6 makes a bean and cheese burrito that starts, amazingly, with pinto beans grown on a family farm just north of Greeley. They’re rolled in tortillas baked fresh at Greeley’s own Los Comales. Then green chilies from Tigges Farm, about 10 miles as the crow flies from the kitchens at Nutrition Services, are fire-roasted and turned into a sauce.
“We top those bean burritos with our locally grown green chilies,” says Kara Sample, programs coordinator and assistant director. “And yeah—they’re delicious.”