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That's what she said

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Grist | Dragging Boulder school food into the computer age


By

When she arrived in May 2008 to investigate food service in Boulder schools, Beth Collins found that the cooks had to send paper purchase orders to the school system’s central warehouse to get the ingredients they needed to cook meals. The nutrition services department and the warehouse had computer systems, but they didn’t talk to each other. A nutritionist who wrote menus for the schools entered them by hand on an Excel spreadsheet.

For Collins, who eventually would be tasked with turning Boulder’s neglected food-service infrastructure into a smooth-running machine, what she first saw there was like stepping into another era. But that’s hardly unusual for U.S. schools and especially school-food operations. They’re at the end of the line when it comes to adopting modern technology. And that helps account for why they have trouble making ends meet under the federally-funded school meals program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires all school districts to maintain meticulous records of all the purchases they make as a way of proving that they have actually made the meals for which they claim federal reimbursements. Collins said she was in a school district in Mississippi recently where they kept something they called “The Red Book,” meaning a ledger in which they recorded all of their purchases with pen and ink.

Read the entire article in Grist: Dragging Boulder school food into the computer age

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