DES MOINES, Iowa – The Des Monies Public School District continues to make meals for its students from scratch every day.
DMPS Executive Chef Chad Taylor said every day their warehouse cooks 20,000 fresh breakfasts and 25,000 lunches.
“We feel as though that gives us better control of the ingredients that we offer to our students that we are in control of sodium content, sugar content,” Taylor said.
Taylor said it takes a lot of planning to make sure meals get to all 63 schools each day.
Employees work in staggered shifts throughout the day constantly producing new meals.
Taylor said there are 30 employees who cook and bake for the whole district. They have help using technology and a computer system to make sure everything gets shipped on time.
“I go home every day knowing that we’ve really put our heart and soul not only myself, but it’s really my staff that care about the kids we feed each and every day,” Taylor said.
DMPS Nutrition Assistant Christina Freeman said she started working in the cafeteria 27 years ago. A lot has changed since then.
“When we first started in the schools we were hand-pinching rolls, we were doing everything by hand. Hand-pinching rolls, dipping cookies, doing it all by scratch. Here we have of course all the equipment and everything you can work on,” Freeman said.
Freeman started working with the district to have the same hours as her children grew and she hasn’t stopped since.
DMPS employee Diana Cram said she started 18 years ago so she could be on the same schedule as her kids.
“Everything has changed so much. The products, everything you make, macaroni and cheese stuff like that. I didn’t have that when I was in school,” Cram said.
Cram said she misses being in the schools and seeing children’s faces every day.
Once the meals are prepared they are put on trucks and shipped to a designated school. Once at the school they will be reheated for students to enjoy.
Cram said she is proud to make meals from scratch because she knows what is going into each product.
“To me, it seems more homemade, the things that they make just seem more homemade then everything that is out of a box which is good,” Cram said.
The district is offering 50 of its schools both free breakfast and lunch regardless of income this school year.