Successful Program Simplifies Operations, Admin Review Prep

Case Study: Byers Public School District 32-J

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Grades: preK-12
Population: 550
Location: Byers, Colorado

A foodservice program’s USDA Administrative Review can be intimidating, especially for directors who are not dietitians or have a background in nutrition. Such was the case for Steffiney Quick, foodservice director in the Byers, Colorado, school district. Located approximately 50 miles east of Denver, the rural district serves 550 preK-12 students on a single campus with a central cafeteria.

Quick’s first Administrative Review was less than positive. She spent 122 hours preparing for the review over and above her regular responsibilities running the district’s profitable foodservice program.

“When you spend 122 hours just getting the nutritionals ready for a review, you worry constantly. There’s always some doubt,” she said. “I’m not an RD but I’ve learned over 18 years how to do this. Most foodservice directors in rural districts don’t know how to convert greens, legumes, grains, etc. It’s daunting.”

As her second Administrative Review approached, Quick didn’t want to repeat her prior experience. She enlisted the help of NutriStudents K-12, a service she learned about through the Colorado Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). As a member district of BOCES, Byers leverages services and cooperative purchasing contracts to help it operate cost effectively and efficiently.

Quick and her staff found the transition to NutriStudents K-12 and its menus easy. They started with a 6-week menu cycle and added more weeks to the rotation in their second year using the system. Preparing and serving the new menus using the step-by-step recipes were a breeze, particularly compared with the extensive scratch-made cooking they’d done previously. The staff quickly came to appreciate the entire system and particularly the downloadable food production reports that include ingredients, contributions and serving sizes. Quick liked that the NutriStudents K-12 market basket synced to the BOCES contract to simplify purchasing. With the streamlined workflow realized using NutriStudents K-12, everyone’s job became less stressful and Quick had the time to take on the additional role of district secretary.

The kids also responded well to the changes. The menus incorporated foods they already knew and loved, like chicken enchilada nachos and breakfast for lunch.

case quotes-byers12.pngAs for the Administrative Review? A few weeks before it took place, Quick sent the menu week she chose for her review to NutriStudents K-12. The team quickly verified the nutritionals using the tweaks the district generally incorporated to menu, such as its scratch-made bread.

“Truly, I only worked with NutriStudents 3 or 4 hours on the review. I never worried about the nutritionals. I literally went to the copier, scanned it and sent it to the Department of Education. It was super simple.”

Quick appreciates the responsiveness of the NutriStudents K-12 team beyond just the support she received for her Administrative Review. Because of feedback from Quick and others, NutriStudents K-12 launched a new client portal and its CookBook, which instantly scales recipes by the day or week to guide the kitchen staff.

“NutriStudents K-12 does everything for you: menu planning, reporting and getting ready for the Administrative Review,” Quick said. “This is an all-around good deal, especially for small districts. I love it!”