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Central kitchen dream becomes a reality

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Central kitchen dream becomes a reality
New facility expected to boost food quality and save money

Next month, BVSD will break ground for the construction of a new Central Kitchen, moving a vision that has been 10 years in the making to reality. Located behind BVSD’s Education Center at 6500 E. Arapahoe Rd. in Boulder, the new facility is expected to reduce food and operating costs while also allowing the School Food Project to expand important programs and initiatives such as sourcing local food, nutrition education, and the No Student Hungry bag program.

“The Central Kitchen has been a dream of ours for more than 10 years now,” said BVSD School Food Project Director Ann Cooper. “I’m so excited to finally see our dream becoming a reality. This kitchen will allow us to improve our efficiency, and more importantly, serve the highest quality meals possible to BVSD students.”

A place for everything 
The new 33,591 square foot central kitchen will feature a loading dock with a fresh food processing area for deliveries from local farms, three food prep areas, over 7,000 square feet of dry, refrigerated, and frozen food storage, a blast chill area, and business spaces. An onsite café will serve scratch-cooked, locally sourced meals to the public and Ed Center staff, providing another opportunity for our community to enjoy the same high-quality meals served in our schools. The facility will also accommodate the ever-expanding No Student Hungry bag program with a dedicated area for bag assembly, as well as conference space to host nutrition education and food literacy classes. Future plans include a teaching kitchen for cooking classes, special events, and seminars.

Regional kitchens combine
The new central facility will replace three regional production kitchens at Centaurus, Casey, and Monarch High. For years, these school kitchens have been tasked with storing and preparing the 13,000 daily meals that are then shipped to each school kitchen to be heated and served. The regional production kitchens were never sized for the level of production they’ve been charged with, but have been retrofitted to get by over the years. Meal and catering sales continue to grow and are pushing beyond the capacity of the regional kitchens. Without the Central Kitchen, a fourth regional kitchen would have been required. The new facility will be able to expand production to 17,000 daily meals as demand grows. Housing the regional kitchen comes with certain nuisances for the host schools such as increased traffic from staff and deliveries, storage demands and scheduling challenges. Centralizing production will relieve the schools of these issues.   

Strengthening partnerships with local farmers
With the increased production and storage space, BVSD will be able to buy, process, and store more seasonal food in bulk, reducing food costs by an estimated $160,000 annually. This also means we will be able to expand contracts with local farmer partners and food producers. Establishing annual contracts with the school district early in the year allows farmers to plan their production and provides some certainty that there will be a buyer for their product. Sourcing food locally supports the local economy and farmer families as well as ancillary benefits like protecting the regional agricultural heritage and agricultural open space. 

Increasing efficiency and quality – Reducing costs
In addition to reducing food costs, the shift to the Central Kitchen is expected to reduce labor costs and improve efficiency. With production spread over three kitchens, many functions such as ordering, cooking, packaging, labeling, and shipping occur redundantly at each site. Consolidating these to one is expected to yield a future annual reduction in labor costs of almost $250,000. 

The Central Kitchen is the first step into the next 10 years of bringing fresh, healthy food to BVSD students and the community. 

“There are numerous initiatives that the Central Kitchen will be able to play a role in beyond school meals. We look forward to providing opportunities for the community to take part in cooking classes, hosting meetings in the new space and visiting our cafe to experience the same high-quality meals served in our schools. I really hope this can be a great, new gathering place for the BVSD community,“ explained Chef Cooper.

The new Central Kitchen is part of the Building for Student Success program generously supported by BVSD taxpayers. Learn more about what is happening at bond.bvsd.org.