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Davis Journal

A behind the scenes look at school lunch 

Sep 16, 2021 09:20AM ● By Becky Ginos

Production specialists fill bags with macaroni and cheese sauce that will be delivered to schools throughout the district.

CLEARFIELD—Every day in the Davis School District, lunch is being served in 90 schools. As kids line up to fill their plates, they don’t know who made the food, just that it’s time to eat. What goes on behind the scene to make that happen is nothing short of amazing.

“The Freeport Center was a Navy depot in the 1940s during WWII,” said Todd Blanscett, production coordinator at Nutrition Services that is located in Clearfield. “The district leases five buildings here, nutrition, material distribution, maintenance department, bus shop and surplus furniture. When we started 20 years ago there were 58 schools and 20 employees. There are 90 schools now and we have the same amount of employees because we’ve become super efficient.”

The central facility makes all the food that is distributed to the schools. “There are no mixes,” he said. “We have a scratch bakery. We mix the dough, shape it into a dinner roll, bake and package it all in one day.”

“Eating food from the big manufactures just isn’t as good,” said Nutrition Services Director Natalie Bradford. “Ours has a superior texture and flavor. You can tell the names of the people who made the product. The kitchen employees know who produced the food – it’s a unique thing.”

Not only do they supply Davis County schools they also send food to Salt Lake, Box Elder, Ogden, Park City and some charter schools, said Blanscett. “We partnered with Salt Lake day one. We send them an order every Tuesday.”

The government purchases products from farmers to give to the national school lunch program to keep costs down, said Bradford. “It’s good quality food, it just needs to be used.”

“We cook 1,850 lbs of roast all in one night,” Blanscett said. 

“It’s put in a basket and lowered by a crane into the cook tank,” said Bradford. “There is a probe to check the temperature. It’s put into hot water to cook then in cool water to make sure it is cooked properly and chilled properly so it is safe to eat.”

Over in the cook/chill area 300 gallons of product such as macaroni and cheese sauce can be done at a time. “We use a metering pump and put it into one gallon bags that can be figured out at the school,” said Blanscett. “We make 900 gallons a day of different products.”

An overwrap machine can package 165 bread products a minute, he said. “We send products wrapped and bagged out in bulk to junior highs and high schools. The majority of the main menu line comes from here.”

Blanscett has attended culinary school so he plays a part in creating new products. “We’ll make a one gallon recipe in the test kitchen and see if it tastes good or not,” he said. “Then we’ll blow it up to 300 gallons.”

In addition to providing school lunch, there is also a restaurant on site at the facility. “It’s open to the public,” said Bradford. “We get a lot of people from the Freeport Center and Hill Air Force Base. It’s the best kept secret. We also cater weddings and sell products for family reunions, etc.”

A banner hanging in the center reads “Feed our children, fuel our future.” 

“A lot of care and consideration goes into every product,” said Bradford. “We’re committed to making a good, quality product.”