Boulder Valley School District
boulder valley culinary

Centralizing food production in Boulder Valley

April 2, 2021
The Boulder Valley (Colo.) district has opened a 33,000-square-foot centralized kitchen facility.

The Boulder Valley (Colo.) district has opened a 33,000-square-foot centralized kitchen facility in Boulder to provide thousands of meals a day to schoolchildren.

The district says the $16.4 million Culinary Center began producing meals in fall 2020, even though the Covid-19 pandemic postponed plans for a grand opening.

“It ought to be a birthright for every child, every day, to have healthy food in school,” says Ann Cooper, Boulder Valley’s food services director. “This new centralized production facility gives us the space and equipment to make that a reality for BVSD students.”

Technology is integrated throughout the facility to boost safety and efficiency. One new feature is the cook-chill system, which includes giant kettles to cook in, and a connected system that enables the food to be portioned and sealed automatically, then moved to a chill tank to rapidly drop the temperature for food safety.

Several features of the building support the district’s dedication to partnering with local farmers and regional purveyors of fresh, whole foods. In addition to a large bay for trucks to make commercial deliveries, the building was outfitted with a delivery door designed to meet the needs of local farmers’ smaller trucks and vans that transport their deliveries.

With 6,000 square feet of warehouse storage, the district can buy in bulk and store local crops in cold storage—a benefit to smaller farms that often don’t have storage capacity. A dedicated produce washing room hosts equipment designed to thoroughly clean and handle fruits and vegetables.

The Culinary Center replaces the district’s three regional production kitchens, which were at two high schools and a middle school.

Consolidating these three into one is expected to yield a annual reduction in labor costs. In a typical school year, the space will produce 14,000 to 17,000 scratch-cooked meals each day.

The project’s culinary design firm is Ricca Design Studios; the architect is Stantec; and the builder is JHL Constructor.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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