Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, in Houston, Texas
The Nutrition Services Department in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD) in Houston has what might seem a daunting task – serving more than 113,000 meals daily or approximately 20 million meals per year on 91 campuses. Yet Foodservice Director Darin Crawford and a team of about 1,300 take it all in stride with good humor and dedication. All their department efforts are guided by the core values of quality, service and accountability.
While keeping these values always in mind, much of the district’s food is prepared in a 50,000 square foot central production facility, supported with a dry warehouse and two frozen warehouses. This hub is the heart of the district’s food operations. Here, freshly made items are distributed daily to the schools’ Power Up Cafés throughout the district. In the central kitchen, CFISD Chef Brent Trudeau leads the team in cooking scratch menu items, such as chili, spaghetti sauce and taco meat. They also bake fresh whole grain rolls, cinnamon rolls and kolaches – a regional specialty.
Dedication to eggcellence
The efficiency of the central production facility is on display when the team makes its delicious, nutritious breakfast sandwiches. The bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on English muffins are assembled as they move along a production line. Then they are individually packed, sealed, printed with nutritional information and dated. This student favorite is made by the thousands and then distributed chilled to the schools for service where they are reheated right in their packaging. This minimizes preparation and cleanup at each school.
Eggs are a popular protein at CFISD, used frequently in meal preparation. In addition to breakfast sandwiches, the district makes several varieties of breakfast tacos, using scrambled eggs. Beyond breakfast, hard-boiled eggs are added to a rotating variety of prepared entrée salads. And liquid eggs are often an ingredient in the production for their baked goods.
Stepping up to fill needs
At times, the CFISD team’s nutrition mission spills out beyond the school walls into the surrounding community. Because of their experience feeding nutritious, delicious meals to students via their central production facility, they’ve been able to respond quickly in times of need. For instance, in August 2017 when Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the area, the CFISD team mobilized and brought nourishing food and fresh water to many of the displaced. While the CFISD was closed for two weeks, district facilities served as shelters for residents forced from their homes by flooding.
“Many families in Cy-Fair were displaced or suffered other hardships due to Hurricane Harvey,” Crawford related. Although students received free breakfast and lunch through the month of September, the district planned other ways to support those in need. “We were also able to provide free meals for anyone at three of our schools, Cy Lakes High School, Holbrook Elementary School, and Owens Elementary School,” Crawford said. The campuses acted as public cafeterias during the school closures. “We were able to serve thousands of meals at no charge to families in our community.”
We are so proud to share with you how the team at Cypress-Fairbanks produces food for the students and nutrition for the community when in need. Thanks for all you do to Power Up the community.