School Meals Team Serves Healthy and Delicious Fare — and a Community Need
“We are serving pre-schools, daycares and after school programs,” says Bob Prince, FareStart’s director of contract operations. “Right now, we are serving over 14,000 school meals a week and roughly 85% of the students we serve qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. This program fills a real need in the community. Kids can’t learn if they’re hungry!”
The program he’s describing offers real-world training to our adult culinary students, who are preparing these meals in the second phase of their training in the FareStart kitchens in Pacific Tower on Beacon Hill. As with all our businesses, the revenue generated goes directly back into our programs and mission, and simultaneously provides unique training opportunities to students and allows them to continue to give back to the community. FareStart began providing school meals even before becoming a non-profit in 1992, and still serves its very first school client, the Denise Louie Education Center, delivering breakfast and lunch to children at its HeadStart/Preschool programs in three Seattle locations.
While many kid-focused meal programs offer processed food, FareStart provides healthy, nutritious cuisine that kids love. Each meal is painstakingly created by our chefs from scratch, with the dietary needs—and “special tastes”—of kids in mind, including allergen-free and vegetarian options. Food that is both nutritious and delicious is the School Meals crew’s main priority and it shows. “FareStart menu items are fresh, culturally diverse and seasonal. We appreciate that FareStart supports local growers and their cooks are willing to listen to ideas and suggestions for new items,” says a teacher at South Seattle College Preschool.
The program follows the Child and Adult Care Food Program nutritional guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and these guidelines are designed for customers to be able to seek reimbursement from the State of Washington. The State distributes the funds from the USDA to our school meals clients.
In 2018, FareStart provided 528,632 school meals across all our customer organizations and as big as that number is, there are plans for growth. “We are looking at expanding our after-school meals,” Prince says. “These are called ‘out of time’ meals, and lots of children are underserved here. There are way too many kids who don’t get a nutritious meal in the afternoons or evening and we want to fill that need. We are also always looking for new school meals customers and we offer tours of our facilities and people can look at our current menus online.”
Children in our community deserve healthy and delicious meals no matter their economic situation, and FareStart’s School Meals Program works with organizations that understand that. With our unique position as a nonprofit training program, we provide meals that nourish not only the children but also help our students learn, contribute and grow as they make their way towards employment and self-sufficiency.