Eat REAL is proud to announce that Boulder Valley School District’s (BVSD) School Food Project in Boulder, Colorado, has again achieved Eat REAL Certification. Started under the leadership of Chef Ann Cooper and continued under director Stephen Menyhart, BVSD is a model for school food service, nationally recognized as a trailblazer in school food programming. Every menu is crafted from locally sourced, climate-friendly, whole ingredients that introduce students to a wide variety of foods and cultures, inspiring students to make nutritious and climate-conscious choices.
Eat REAL first recognized BVSD’s School Food Project as a leader in school food when they became the first Eat REAL Certified school district in 2016. They participated in Eat REAL’s original food service establishment certification program, where their journey and feedback helped shape Eat REAL’s current school food service focused program.
Eat REAL’s mission is to empower school districts nationwide to make food delicious, nourishing, and climate-friendly. Our evidence-based certification program requires a district to undergo a points-based assessment of their program against Eat REAL’s 10 standards. These standards evaluate different areas of nutrition, sustainability, and overall transparency. A district must meet a set of minimum requirements and earn a score of 60% or higher to become certified, and a score of 80% will earn the district certification at the Silver level. BVSD is now the first Eat REAL school district to achieve the Silver designation.
As a district that is constantly asking, “what can we do better?”, Eat REAL’s analysis gave them the data to verify the work they are doing to transform school meals. The certification process helped to identify the most impactful areas for improvement, supporting the district in further defining and achieving its goals. Additionally, Eat REAL Certification provides external validation and verification for programs like BVSD, to raise awareness within the parent and student community.
“Partnering with Eat Real’s certification program aligns with and supports our mission to serve fresh and nutritious food every day. We believe that for kids to learn, think and be the best they can be, they have to eat well,” commented Stephen Menyhart, Director of Nutrition Services.
The passionate and dedicated staff have spent years building, learning, and challenging the “norm” of school food. Taking a “one step at a time” approach, the district has fostered numerous partnerships with local producers, farms, and ranchers to source ingredients for their creative, seasonal, and kid-approved menus. They excel at turning the cafeteria into a classroom, exposing students to seasonal fresh fruit & veggies through salad bars, engaging students’ senses with taste tests of new ingredients and dishes, and educating students about local and seasonal food.
“Their commitment to continue to grow is a huge part of their success,” notes Nora LaTorre, Eat REAL’s CEO, “they were already far along in the process and a high-performing district, but still striving for improvement. No ego, just an unwavering dedication to the students they serve.”
The School Food Project at BVSD has continued to be a nationally recognized school meal program. They’ve turned their learnings and achievements into a replicable model, producing lessons and guides for fellow school food professionals, and are constantly reimagining school food. Join us in celebrating Boulder Valley School District, recognizing their accomplishments, leadership, and dedication to improving children’s health and wellbeing!
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