The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) has awarded the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) in Colorado with its first Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) certification award for a public school district. REAL certification recognizes an operator’s commitment to healthy and sustainable food service practices.
BVSD also becomes only the third foodservice provider in the state of Colorado to achieve REAL certification, joining two units of the Taziki’s Mediterranean Café in securing the designation.
Boulder Valley has been at the forefront of the move to more local, organic and sustainable food prepared from scratch in K-12 kitchens under Food Services Director Ann Cooper, whose initiatives have included programs such as extensive farm-to-school participation, chef demonstrations, school gardens, Harvest of the Month events and Rainbow Days, which teach K-6 students about healthy fruit and veggie choices and portion control.
“We are honored and proud to be REAL Certified,” said Cooper in a statement accompanying the announcement of the certification. “The philosophy of the BVSD School Food Project is closely aligned with that of the USHFC, especially when it comes to teaching our children to eat and appreciate healthy food.”
In recognizing BVSD, USHFC cited the district’s “exceptional” food preparation that focuses on cooking in-house from scratch, its use of only plant-based oils and its incorporation of healthy cooking practices.
The menu “goes above and beyond USDA requirements,” it added, noting that BVSD does not offer juice in elementary schools, and only in vending machines at the middle and high schools, and that it does not offer flavored milk.
Also cited was the “plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables” offered daily.
BVSD earned a particularly high score in the Leadership category, garnering 95 percent of available points through initiatives such as making plenty of water and healthy, vegetarian options available to students, the use of sustainable servingware, participating in Meatless Mondays and having a school garden and composting program.