What's Cooking in Colorado's Largest School District? Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics

What's Cooking in Colorado's Largest School District? Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics

Jeffco Public Schools is the largest school district in Colorado with nearly 86,000 students and about 12,000 employees. On Sept. 18, 2013—Colorado Proud Day—the school system began serving chicken raised without antibiotics to its students, along with other fresh, locally produced food. Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services Linda Stoll answered some questions about the importance of Jeffco's new menu item.  

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What is the Colorado Proud lunch menu?

Colorado Proud Day, sponsored by the Colorado Departments of Education and Agriculture, is celebrated annually in school districts across the state. It's an opportunity for our students and school communities to enjoy and learn about the agricultural bounty of our region.

Jeffco Public Schools celebrates Colorado Proud every year. This year, the menu features locally grown and processed BBQ chicken drumsticks, carrot-cabbage coleslaw, Rocky Ford cantaloupe, and sweet potato rolls.

Why did Jeffco Public Schools include chicken drumsticks from a farm that does not use antibiotics?

Purchasing chicken from a local producer that is raising sustainably produced poultry is good for Jeffco students, good for the Colorado economy, and good for the environment. 

Jeffco Food Services takes its role as guardian of student health seriously, which is why we want to support producers that are taking steps to protect our antibiotic supply and public health.

After Colorado Proud Day, we are excited that we'll be able to continue support this new industry in Colorado by serving chicken raised without antibiotics in all elementary schools once each month.

Does the new chicken significantly affect the school system's budget

The new chicken actually fits within the parameters established for "Center of the Plate" items on our menu.

What advice would you give other school systems interested in serving meat raised without antibiotics?

Find someone knowledgeable in your area's farm community and work with them.  When you find your producer, educate them on the economics of the school lunch program and work with them to come up with an agreement that is win-win for both of you.

Progressive, sustainable producers can "do well by doing good" in schools. Their participation in school meals programs can generate well-deserved goodwill within the community and promote brand awareness in retail settings.

What is your favorite item on the new menu?

It's hard to choose. We're especially excited about the BBQ drumsticks because they're new this year.  The coleslaw is sure to be a hit with the kids.

Colorado is known across the country for our sweet Rocky Ford cantaloupes and the sweet potato roll is a great tasting whole grain product, baked next door in Denver!  

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