NORTH CRAWFORD - Jen Kapinus is the new Foodservice Director for the North Crawford School District. The good news is that her passion and enthusiasm for food mean that the students and staff at the school are in for an exciting culinary year.
Kapinus has a background in administration and management, and worked with the Salvation Army for 14 years delivering emergency services. She and her team were in Gays Mills in September of 2018, following the flood, to help feed displaced village residents and clean-up volunteers.
Kapinus was especially excited about the new ‘Perfect Parfait Yogurt Dispenser’ which will allow students to help themselves to a serving of Westby Co-op Creamery Lowfat Vanilla Yogurt. Students will be able to add mix-and-match whole grain granola and fruits.
“The yogurt parfait option will be available to start on Tuesday mornings, and may be expanded later depending on its popularity,” Kapinus said. “We’re very excited about adding this local option into our foodservice menu – the machine is made in Wisconsin and the yogurt is made from milk from local dairy farmers.”
The foodservice director noted that she is proud of offering North Crawford’s students a healthy, protein-rich breakfast option. She is also very proud that the district is supporting local dairy farmers.
“Our mission is to feed our school’s kids healthy and nutritious meals because it is the right thing to do,” Kapinus said. “I am hoping the yogurt parfait will generate enthusiasm for a healthy option.”
And even more
Kapinus said that North Crawford has received a USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetables grant. The grant will financially support a program to offer students in kindergarten through eighth grade a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day of the school year.
“We plan to serve the snack each day in the afternoon as a pick-me-up,” Kapinus said. “We see it as a way to help kids try new things and expand their palates.”
Kapinus explained that she will also use student feedback about the fruits and vegetables they sample to decide what kinds of things she can add to the regular menu. One example she used was roasted butternut squash, which she is guessing will be a hit with the kids.
“I am excited that the kids will have a healthy option every afternoon for the whole school year,” Kapinus said. “We will order as much as possible from local growers when fresh fruit and vegetables are in season, and will work with such providers as Driftless Organics and Cedar Moon Farm.”
Kapinus’ team has decided, on a trial basis, to limit access to the ‘build-your-own’ salad bar option to students in grades six through twelve. This is because elementary students tend to throw away a lot of the salad items they take.
“The elementary students will be getting a fresh fruit and vegetable snack every afternoon, so we feel comfortable limiting their access to the salad bar,” Kapinus said. “However, if the elementary students don’t like not having the salad bar option, then we’ll reconsider.”
Another focus for Kapinus in the coming school year will be to increase student participation in North Crawford’s breakfast program.
“What we have observed is that kids don’t eat the breakfast, especially high school students who are driving themselves to school,” Kapinus observed. “What we do know is that kids do better in school when they eat a healthy breakfast.”
For this reason, starting in September, they will offer a ‘grab-and-go’ breakfast option which students can take and eat in their classrooms. The grab-and-go option will include a bagel, cream cheese, fresh fruit, and juice or milk.
More from scratch
Kapinus says that she has a personal goal to include less processed food, and more offerings that are prepared from scratch, in the foodservice menu.
“Every Wednesday, I plan to roll up my sleeves and get in the kitchen and cook,” Kapinus said with enthusiasm. “Some ideas that I have include Twisty Chicken Alfredo Pasta, Shepherd’s Pie, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and Trojan Cheesy Potato and Ham Soup served with an Apple Crisp.”
Kapinus said that they would also experiment with offering a potato bar once every five weeks. Students will be able to ‘build their own’ baked potato entrée, choosing from a variety of garnishment options.
Another option will be a choice on Tuesdays between the hot lunch line or the loaded taco salad bar. The foodservice team will also try a ‘Nacho Tots’ entree, which will substitute tater tots for tortilla chips in nachos.
In addition to all the great everyday innovations in North Crawford’s foodservice offerings, the team also has a lot of outreach and community events planned for the upcoming school year.
September 18:Members of the Crawford County Sheriffs Department will be serving breakfast to the elementary students.
October 10:The Great Midwest Apple Crunch, with apples from local apple orchards.
October 14-18:National School Lunch Week will be observed with prizes weeklong, and a ‘Super Hero’ theme, with special entrees such as ‘Thors Scalloped Potatoes and Hammers,’ ‘Nitro Nachos,’ and ‘Robin’s Rotini.’
October 31:in observance of Halloween, there will be a ‘ghoulish’ lunch menu.
November 20:A big, traditional, Thanksgiving meal will be served family-style, and parents and grandparents are welcome to participate.
December 18:A special holiday meal will be served, and Kapinus said that she is hoping, cost permitting, to source a pork roast from a local provider.January 21-24:The lunch menu for the week will feature an ‘Around the World on 80 Trays’ theme, where students will be offered a different international cuisine each day.