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U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Arrival of the Fittest: Adapt and Overcome!

By Jason Morse

While school foodservice has some things in common with other segments of the industry, in other ways it’s very different. One thing we have in common is that we all have the ability to learn from each other, and do on many occasions.jason

Today I was in one of our kitchens and the manager pulled me aside to ask if I saw their yearly motto. She pointed to a small sign that read “Adapt and Overcome!” Powerful? Yep. As power-packed as a blueberry.

As the rules and regulations of our school world change, we obviously have some decisions to make. Dwell on the need to change and let it consume you, or ADAPT AND OVERCOME.

Change is the catalyst that gets our kids engaged in our food culture. Our goal is always to empower kids to make smart decisions. Our ability to communicate with our young customers is crucial and we are always looking for ways to communicate and engage with them.

So what’s new for us this 2013-14 school year in the Douglas County School District?

  • Harvest Bars. We have launched our GOLD LEVEL Harvest Bars (Salad Bars) in 58 elementary and charter schools and have just received the funding to add Harvest Bars to our remaining 22 secondary schools and additional charter schools. Our student body and staff now have the ability to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies as part of a reimbursable meal or thru our new SBO (salad by the ounce) program.
  • Charter Schools. There is no greater compliment to our team than to be sought out by our local Charter School Community and contracted to prepare their meals. We went into six new schools, built kitchens, hired staff and are now proud to add these students to the growing list of happy customers.
  • Chef Events. I am working harder than ever to get out to schools and interact with the students at all levels. From ProStart to Family and Consumer Sciences to Pre-K and beyond, our students are hungry for engagement and we are hungry for their input. You would be amazed at how some open and honest conversations in classrooms have led to change in our food program.
  • Menu Planning. We all have new direction from the USDA that affects our school programs. Did we look at the changes in the regulations, complain and let it consume us? NO, we didn’t. Our team (dietician, operations lead and myself) hunkered down and took time to understand and evaluate what is required from us. Then we found ways to cook in ways that still taste great and are even better for our students. Spending the time to digest this information has made me a better chef. ADAPT AND OVERCOME. How cool is that?

So as you can see, we don’t take much time to sit back and celebrate. Our team is charged with continual change to evolve our menus.

Stop by and see us, enjoy a Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie or some amazing roasted vegetable and balsamic pizza.

If you’d like to share your successes or ask for more details about ours, please feel free to contact me.

Until we blog again, Jason

Jason K. Morse, CEC

As always, I leave you with this: “When you are through changing, you are through.” ~Bruce Barton

Jason Morse Executive Chef, Douglas County School District, Castle Rock, CO, and Owner of 5280 Culinary, LLC (Culinary Consulting and Retail Spice Company)

As executive chef of a 65,000-student school district, Jason brings more than good food to schools! He’s an enthusiastic ambassador for quality food made with the highest quality ingredients, using traditional cooking techniques. As an active member of the American Culinary Federation, Jason has received many commendations and was invited to serve on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to Schools/White House “Lets Move” Initiative.


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