Frequently Asked Questions

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Training and Compliance

System / Users' Guide




What is NutriStudents K-12®?

NutriStudents K-12 is a self-operated foodservice platform that streamlines management of nearly every facet of a district’s foodservice program. It includes: 

We’re not a foodservice management company, nutrition analysis software or meal planning software. We’re a system foodservice directors use to make their program better than ever, and save time, money, food and headaches while pleasing students.

Who can use NutriStudents K-12?

School foodservice directors/managers, head cooks and foodservice personnel at both public and private schools/districts, child care centers, juvenile detention centers, etc. can save time and money with NutriStudents K-12. We offer 45 complete weeks of USDA-compliant lunch menus, a Breakfast Menu Builder to create a year's worth of breakfast menus in minutes and a toolbox full of calculators, promotional resources and training materials to simplify operational tasks.

How much does NutriStudents K-12 cost?

NutriStudents K-12 is available for a one-time license fee and a monthly subscription fee that is generally within foodservice directors’ budget authority.

What are the advantages of NutriStudents K-12?

Foodservice Directors who have used NutriStudents K-12 report a number of benefits:

Are you a foodservice management company?

No, we’re a self-operated platform that helps foodservice directors streamline management of their district’s foodservice program and remain totally self-operated. With NutriStudents K-12, foodservice directors maintain control of their programs and build on current strengths while saving time, money, food and headaches, and pleasing students.

Are you a nutritional analysis or meal planning software?

No, we are not a nutritional analysis/meal planning software such as NUTRIKIDS, PrimeroEdge, MealsPlus, etc.

Just like districts that create their own menus, NutriStudents K-12 uses a nutritional analysis software to confirm our menus comply with the USDA guidelines. Our Registered Dietitian then further verifies the menus and the corresponding reports needed for administrative reviews/audits before we add them to the client portal. Because we provide all the reports and go to great lengths to confirm compliance, you may opt to not load menus into a nutritional software program.

Are you approved by USDA or my state’s department of education?

Because we are not a nutritional analysis/meal planning software, NutriStudents K-12 is not required to be approved or certified by USDA or state departments of education.

How does NutriStudents K-12 help me manage my budget better?

NutriStudents K-12 helps you manage your budget by:

  1. Creatively maximizing use of your USDA Foods/commodities in our menus.
  2. Simplifying the market basket for food orders, which saves on inventory costs, reduces spoilage, and may entitle you to quantity discounts.
  3. Bringing precision to your USDA Foods allocations when you use our Commodity Forecasting Calculator.
  4. Providing training tools that may reduce or eliminate the need to purchase other training resources.
  5. Redirecting staff time from menu creation and generating reports to other areas of need.
  6. Increasing student participation (and revenues) by delivering delicious and varied menus to hold their interest, and eliminate menu fatigue.

Building participation with healthful foods prepared well.


What menus are offered through NutriStudents K-12?

NutriStudents K-12 includes USDA-compliant menus for every age and every meal: breakfast, lunch, snacks, and after-school dinner for grades K-5, K-8, 6-8 and 9-12. Menus for the National School Lunch Program are available for 4-day, 5-day and 7-day weeks. CACFP preK and adult care, at-risk afterschool meals, Summer Food Service Program and allergen-free (free of dairy, gluten, egg, nut, soy, shellfish) menus are also available.

What types of entrees are on the NutriStudents K-12 lunch menus?

Our entrees feature a range of flavors drawn from a variety of proteins, grains and all the USDA-required vegetable subgroups, enhanced with subtle herbs for superb flavor. You’ll find student favorites with our own little twists, ethnic dishes and geographically inspired entrees.

How are your menus and entrees created?

Our recipes are developed by a skilled team of chefs led by our executive chef and founder, Nancy Close, who applies her culinary training, restaurant experience, nearly 30 years in school foodservice and vast knowledge of the USDA nutritional guidelines to create healthy, vibrant meals that kids will eat. All our menus are certified to all of the nutritional guidelines for sodium, calories, fat, whole grains, vegetable subgroups, etc., and are verified by our registered dietitian, taste-tested repeatedly by students and adults, and refined as needed. The menus are compiled for variety within each week to hold students’ interest.

Can I incorporate my students’ favorite meals into the NutriStudents K-12 menus? / Can I substitute components of your menus with foods my students prefer?

If your district or school is on the National School Lunch Program, NutriStudents K-12 can work with you to incorporate your favorite entrees into our menus and the weekly limits allowed by the nutritional guidelines. NutriStudents K-12 menus can be used to supplement your existing menu weeks to keep your rotation fresh and combat menu fatigue. Our many menu weeks can be used in any order. You can also choose only the weeks that most appeal to your students. 

How do students like your menus?

Students of all ages love our food! Many NutriStudents K-12 users have experienced an increase in participation after rolling out our menus. Check out the success stories and the testimonials from our clients to see what they say!

Do your menus incorporate districts’ USDA Foods (commodities) entitlements?

Yes, our menus creatively incorporate all of your USDA Foods/commodities to the fullest extent while keeping students interested. Our USDA Food Forecasting Tool helps you accurately predict just how much of all your USDA Foods to order for the upcoming school year -- potentially saving you thousands of dollars and minimizing wasted food.

How involved are NutriStudents K-12 recipes? Will they take more staff or more time to prepare?

NutriStudents K-12 recipes are scalable to the size of your student population, with easy step-by-step instructions. Many meals include scratch-cooked items that may take more time to prepare initially than heat-and-serve meals but the reward is better tasting food that more students will eat. Some clients, such as Judy Gertz, head cook at Park Rapids (MN) Public Schools, report food prep is easier with NutriStudents K-12. She says, “With NutriStudents K-12 my whole job is easier. We’re spending less time doing food prep and cooking. Production reports are all right there and so easy to do now.” Often the time saved by using NutriStudents K-12 for menu creation, purchasing support, reporting and training, can be redirected to preparing meals.

If labor costs do increase for food prep, generally the cost and time savings, and greater revenues from the increased participation that can be realized with NutriStudents K-12 more than offsets that liability.

Do I need any special equipment to use NutriStudents K-12 and its menus?

If you have an Internet-enabled computer and Internet access, you have all you need to use NutriStudents K-12. While our menus include many scratch-cooked meals, schools do not need any special equipment to prepare the recipes.

If USDA regulations change, will NutriStudents K-12 still be relevant?

Yes! NutriStudents K-12 menus are updated regularly to keep step with the USDA nutritional guidelines. We continuously monitor discussions by policymakers to understand how proposed changes will affect our users and our menus. Even if the guidelines are relaxed significantly, we believe the healthfulness of today’s guidelines have laid a foundation for healthy eating among students that many parents, school nutrition professionals and the health care community want to build upon and encourage. Our menus will always be USDA-compliant, chef-created, student-tested and approved, and healthful – not to mention convenient and easy for our clients to use.

Menu Freedom. Over 100 Certified Weeks. 

Training and Compliance


How does NutriStudents K-12 analyze the nutritional content of its menus and verify they meet federal nutritional guidelines?

NutriStudents K-12 uses a nutritional analysis software to confirm compliance of our menus and further verifies compliance by our registered dietitian.

Does our district need nutritional analysis software or meal planning software if we use NutriStudents K-12?

Because NutriStudents K-12 verifies our menus prior to adding them to the client portal and provides all the required reports for administrative reviews/audits, you may choose to forego loading our menus into your own nutritional software.

How do I generate my Food Production Reports and other documentation for my USDA Administrative Review/audit?

Each menu in our client portal includes all of the corresponding compliance reports. When you select your menu, you can download recipes, weekly calendar reports, food production reports, HHFKA checklists, contribution reports and our registered dietitian’s statement of menu approval.

Do you provide Child Nutrition (CN)/nutrition labels for items on your menus?

NutriStudents K-12 menus were developed to provide districts/schools with choices regarding menu ingredients. For example, some recipes offer multiple choices for the meat/ma component. A chicken nugget recipe may contain 4 options that include 4 different chicken nuggets all meeting 2 oz. meat/ma and 1 oz. whole grain-rich equivalent. You have the freedom to select the chicken nugget your students prefer or the chicken nugget offered in your awarded food/distributor bids. Because specific ingredient products vary from one district to another and NutriStudents K-12 is not involved in individual districts' meal preparation, we are unable to provide CN/nutritional labels. You will need to remove the CN label from the boxes of your meal components and keep on file. If the product is not a CN labeled item, a product formulation statement must be on file to ensure meal pattern compliance. NutriStudents K-12 can assist you if a product formulation statement is difficult to locate. We recommend you keep the most current CN label, Product Formulation Statement (PFS) and ingredient listings on file.

Do your menus comply with the Buy American Act?

Yes, our menus were developed around food items produced in the U.S., and are specified in our market baskets. The specific products you specify, however, may vary slightly depending on regional availability and products carried by your distributor. In general, our market baskets are comprised of nationally available products, USDA Foods (commodities) and fresh fruits and vegetables.  

Does NutriStudents K-12 provide any training for my kitchen staff?

NutriStudents K-12 has several training tools and resources to help train your kitchen staff. Presentations, teaching tools, videos and cafeteria posters can help with your server and HAACP training sessions. Additionally, if you’d like more support, NutriStudents K-12 staff can provide web-enabled/online or in-person training of your foodservice personnel.

Simplifying school foodservice compliance, ordering, reporting and promotion. 

System / Users' Guide


How does the system work?

NutriStudents K-12 is a web-based system accessible from any Internet-enabled computer. Licensees are given a username and password, provided upon signing up, which is used to log into the client portal at, where you can access menus and reports, training tools and users’ tutorial videos. Within the client portal, you select the meal you want (breakfast, lunch, snacks, after-school dinner), then the age of your students (breakfast: K-12; lunch: K-5, K-8, 6-8, 9-12; snack/after-school dinner: K-12), and the menu you desire. The corresponding recipes and reports are then downloadable from the menu page.

I/my staff is not very technology savvy. How hard is NutriStudents K-12 to use? Is there training or a user’s manual to help us?

NutriStudents K-12 is very easy to use. If you know how to log into and navigate a website, and download documents, you should have no problem using NutriStudents K-12. If you do struggle, there is a users’ manual as well as several helpful video tutorials to teach you how to use the system. When all else fails, we’re just a phone call away and will be happy to assist.

How many users can my school/district have on the system under a standard license?

There is no limit to the number of foodservice professionals within your district who can access the system under a single license. It is the district foodservice director’s responsibility to notify us when an employee is no longer with the district, at which time they will no longer have access to the system.

Can I email recipes to the foodservice staff in other buildings in my district?

Yes, you can email recipes to other foodservice staff in your building or district. Keep in mind, however, that NutriStudents K-12 recipes and menus are protected by copyright laws and are only for use by our licensees. They cannot, at any time, be shared with others who are not your district’s foodservice employees.

Can you come to our district and work with us directly?

Yes, for a reasonable cost, we can conduct in-person training with you and your staff. It is, however, often more effective and efficient for your staff to participate in a live webinar with our NutriStudents K-12 team, usually at no cost to your district.

Over 100 certified, kid-tested weeks of menus 



I’ve never heard of NutriStudents K-12. What experience do you have in school foodservice?

NutriStudents K-12 was established to extend the expertise and intellectual property of CKC Good Food®, a school food catering company specializing in delicious, nutritious meals that kids love. Founded in 1990, CKC has grown to serve more than 90 public charter and private schools, daycare centers and nonprofit organizations in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metropolitan market. Each regular school day, CKC provides over 25,000 breakfasts, lunches, after-school snacks and dinners meeting federal nutritional guidelines for children.

For over 30 years, CKC Good Food has formulated proprietary recipes, processes, methods and tools which fundamentally alter the quality and nutritional standards of school lunches. Its recipes have been taste tested extensively by kids and have been enthusiastically received by clients and their students, setting a new standard for the highest quality, delicious, nutritious food provided at highly competitive prices.

CKC Good Food has earned the reputation as experts in school foodservice, helping schools walk the tightrope of good food and good finance. Since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), the company has furthered its credibility and expertise by actively embracing changes to child nutrition programs and leading client schools through the certification process, without sacrificing profitability or student participation.

Is NutriStudents K-12 approved or endorsed by any organizations or associations?

NutriStudents K-12 is available to school districts nationwide as a value-added enhancement to the Sourcewell food distribution contract. Additionally, the School Superintendents’ Association, is a strong proponent of NutriStudents K-12 for its ability to streamline foodservice operations, increase participation and help programs adhere to budgets.

What does Sourcewell/NJPA have to do with this, and what is it?

Sourcewell, formerly the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA), is a cooperative purchasing organization that competitively solicits contracts on behalf of school districts and other public or nonprofit agencies, and ultimately saves them time on the bid process and thousands of dollars through access to volume discounts. A no-cost, liability or obligation membership is all that’s needed to start saving time, money and effort in the procurement process. If you’re not already a member, join today at NutriStudents K-12 is a value-added enhancement to the Sourcewell-awarded contract for school foodservice distribution.