From meeting USDA regulations to pleasing picky eaters, schools have no shortage of hurdles in the kitchen. This is where blueberries come in! A little change like adding more blueberries to school menus can have a big impact on students’ interest in eating more foods that meet school nutrition standards. With this in mind, the Blueberry Council invited 16 school foodservice professionals from across the country to attend the first School Boot Camp held at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in Napa.
Over the course of three days, attendees took a deep dive into blueberry education and experimentation sessions to discover:
- The ease and availability of sourcing USDA frozen blueberries, as well as fresh and dried blueberries
- The versatility of blueberries beyond snacking, as they can be incorporated into any kid-friendly meal, including breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks and more
- Innovative ways to get the most out of blueberries through cross-utilization between sweet and savory applications ensuring they never go to waste
- New, appealing recipe ideas to increase daily participation and help schools meet USDA’s fruit requirements
- Lastly, small changes on school menus can lead to big changes in kids’ consumption of healthier foods. By showing students how tasty and enjoyable blueberries can be, schools can help them make healthier choices today and in the long run.
In true top-chef style, the School Boot Camp finale challenged the school foodservice professionals to the ultimate taste testers: seven kid judges. After hours experimenting in the kitchen, the eight teams went head-to-head presenting their unique blueberry dishes to the honest & fearless lineup of judges. The winner? A delicious French toast sandwich filled with blueberries, cheese, ham, and topped with powdered sugar – also known as “The Blueberry Sensational Slider!”
With increased emphasis on healthful options and a lot of little mouths to feed each day, we hope school foodservice professionals will think of the easy-to-use, versatile and delicious blueberry for future menu development!
Want to join the fun? Contact Julie Stas to learn more about Blueberry Boot Camp and other opportunities for chefs.