Frequently Asked Questions

I heard BVSD school food is healthy. What does that mean?

In 2009, BVSD changed all of our ingredients, recipes and menus to improve the quality of food we serve to our students. Highly-processed foods, such as chicken nuggets, are gone. We eliminated chocolate milk, which decreases the amount of added sugar available for children to ingest in school. Every school cafeteria in the district has a salad bar, which always has animal and vegetable proteins available on it as well as an assortment of fresh vegetables and fruits. Foods containing high fructose corn syrup, added trans-fats, and added colorings/preservatives have been removed from the menu. Our bread, buns, and rolls are whole grain products made regionally from Wheat Montana. The 1% bulk milk served at lunch is organic, Colorado milk, and the 1% container milk served for after school snacks and breakfast in the classroom is hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Who is Ann Cooper?

Chef Ann Cooper is a celebrated author, chef, educator and enduring advocate for better food for all children. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Ann has been a chef for more than 30 years, over 15 of those in school food programs. She currently serves as the director of nutrition services for the Boulder Valley School District. Known as the Renegade Lunch Lady, Ann has been honored by The National Resources Defense Council, selected as a Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow, and awarded an honorary doctorate from SUNY Cobleskill for her work on sustainable agriculture. In 2009, Ann founded the nonprofit Chef Ann Foundation to focus on solutions to the school food crisis. CAF's pivotal project is The Lunch Box – a web portal that provides free and accessible tools, recipes and resources to support schools transitioning to scratch-cooked meals made with whole, healthy food. Learn more...

Why are we serving organic milk and what does it cost?

The organic bulk milk is actually less expensive per serving than regular milk in individual cartons and plastic containers. Using organic milk helps support the organic industry and all the positive environmental and sustainable practices that they utilize in their business model. 

Is the school food ever locally grown?

Whenever possible, we purchase foods that are locally grown and produced. We purchase vegetables from our local farmer partners and fruit from our regional partners on the western slope. As BVSD’s Director of Food Services Ann Cooper once described it, envision our ability to purchase locally-grown produce as a circle around the Boulder Valley that expands and contracts with the seasons. As local items become available in the bountiful fall months, the circle will shrink. As winter and spring set in, our purchasing circle needs to widen a bit to get all of the products we need. Learn more about BVSD farmer partners and local food vendors...

Where does the meat come from?

We purchase the following local, antibiotic- and hormone-free proteins: bulk ground beef for nacho meat and hamburger patties from Legacy Meats of Kersey, CO; bone-in chicken and chicken tenders from Colorado Native Foods of Denver; bratwurst and Italian sausage from Old Style Sausage of Louisville; and grass-fed, all-beef hot dogs from Coleman Natural Foods. Our diced chicken items are USDA commodity processed products from Pilgrim's Pride.

REAL Certified, HUSSC, Good Food 100 Restaurants List, Good Food Purchasing Program...what do these awards and certifications mean?

These certifications recognize our commitment to high-quality food ingredients and transparency within the food service world. Learn more about our program's awards and certifications...

Are the kids really eating school lunch?

Yes! Participation in school lunch continues to increase! Since 2009, we have not radically changed the offerings on the menu; we have improved the quality of the ingredients. The kids still have pizza, burgers, pasta, and nachos – retooled to take out the less nutritious ingredients – e.g., we replaced canned cheese sauce with real cheese on the nachos. 

How are you receiving feedback from students on the meals?

Ann Cooper gets feedback via email regularly from students and their parents. Each spring we send a survey to all BVSD families. We host taste testings during lunch to get direct student feedback and ascertain student preferences. From this feedback, we have changed numerous recipes and menu items in an effort to serve healthy food that the students will enjoy. 

What is the Central Kitchen project?

In 2014, voters approved a bond program that will include the construction of a new central kitchen. Currently, all meals for BVSD schools are cooked from scratch in three regional production kitchens. However, these retrofitted kitchens have reached their capacity for storage, preparation, cooking and refrigeration. Construction on the new central kitchen began in February 2019, and will be located behind the Education Center. The new central kitchen, including additional storage for locally purchased products, a café, a dedicated area for the No Student Hungry bag program, and eventually, a teaching kitchen, is scheduled to be completed by July 2020. For more information, including construction updates, please visit the BVSD Bond Program website.

Where can I find allergen and nutrition information for the meals served in school?

Allergen and nutrition information is embedded into the menu calendars posted on our Menus page. By clicking on the menu item, you can view a dish's description, picture allergens, nutrition information. On the Menus page, you can search by keyword as well.

Additionally, allergen, nutrition, and gluten-free information sheets are posted here

How much do meals cost?

View a complete list of prices by grade and meal period on our Meals & Nutrition page.

How do I apply for free or reduced-price meals? What are the requirements for free or reduced meal cost status?

Applications for free/reduced-price meals are available online through your BVSD Infinite Campus Student/Parent Portal. More detailed information about the program, including income eligibility requirements, is posted here.

Where are the school gardens in the district? Who runs this program?

Learn all about BVSD School Gardens including a list of school gardens, garden partners and suggestions for starting and maintaining school gardens here.

Just starting a school garden? Find BVSD best practices in our Garden as Classroom Manual.

Who paid for the calendars?

No BVSD taxpayer dollars were used to make our menu calendars. The calendar project was made possible by donations from the following health-conscious companies: Allegro Coffee/Spices, Alpha Foods, Barilla, Canyon Bakehouse, Colorado Native Foods, Colorado Tortilla Co., Danone Wave, Eldorado Springs Water, Elevation Foodservice Reps, Evolution Salts, Food Fore Thought, Freshpack, Food Maven, Healthy Harvest, Horizon Software, In Harvest, Keen One, La Casita, Land O' Lakes, Legacy Meats, Lucky's Market, Main St. Gourmet, Meadow Gold, Moe's Bagels, Home Depot Pro (Supplyworks), Old Style Sausage, Pilgrims Pride/Gold Kist, Sisters' Pantry, Tasty Brands, VISTAR, and Wheat Montana.

Why does the staff wear uniforms?

Uniforms prevent your street clothes from being ruined. They also elevate the “lunch lady” to a respectable and professional status in the schools. Kids nowadays are exposed to cooking and chef shows on cable TV and they think chefs and cooks are pretty cool. We do, too.

How can I get involved?

There are several ways you can help. Visit our Get Involved page.

How are the nutrition education programs funded?

The School Food Project relies on grants and individual donations to sustain our lunchroom, farm-to-school, and school garden programs. That means we need YOUR HELP to sustain and expand our programming.

Is breakfast only available for free or reduced status students?

No! Breakfast is available to every single student who wants it. Full pay students can purchase breakfast at the paid breakfast price. View breakfast menus here.

What is Universal Breakfast?

Universal breakfast is FREE breakfast for ALL students in a particular school, no matter what their meal status. Studies have shown that students who eat breakfast have better concentration, are more focused, have fewer disciplinary issues, and are less likely to go to the nurse’s office than students who do not eat breakfast. Breakfast helps the whole student – body, mind and spirit. Universal breakfast is currently available only in higher-need schools… but if Chef Ann ruled the world, we’d serve all kids in America a free breakfast!

My student is graduating from BVSD or switching school districts, how do I claim unused meal account funds?

If your student has a positive meal account balance and you would like to request the funds returned, please email the following information to Lola Campos-Herzfeld.

  • Guardian Name
  • Student Name
  • Student ID Number
  • Physical Address
  • Mailing Address (if different and check is requested)
  • Name of last school attended
  • How funds are to be distributed (i.e. check, donation to other student, transfer to sibling)

Per statute CR 38-13-108.2, property (including meal account balances) held by a school district, which remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after becoming payable or distributable, is presumed abandoned and will be submitted to the State of Colorado.

To whom can I send compliments and complaints?

Ann Cooper is happy to answer all emails that come her way – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Please feel free to contact her with your feedback.

Learn about the history of the School Food Project

I just visited Crest View and had lunch with my kindergartner for the first time - it was so great! Thank you thank you for all of the hard work you and the Food Services team CLEARLY put into the menus and overall experience that the kiddos have. It was really fun and tasty - looking forward to making this a regular event and tasting your creations!

Excited Kindergarten Mom