Great-tasting, freshly-prepared meals from real, honest ingredients shouldn’t be a privilege, when it’s the right of each and every child. The obesity epidemic, generally poor nutrition among children, widespread food insecurity and the environmental impact of ultra-processed food make scratch cooking not just something that should be done, but something that must be done now, not later. Holistically, scratch cooking is a recipe for better learning. Good food is part of a good education – that’s just smart.
A number of school districts, nonprofits, for-profit corporations and other innovators have devised programs and tested groundbreaking models in schools across the country. As a result, school cafeterias are adding scratch and speed scratch items to their menus, edible gardens are cropping up in schoolyards all over the United States, and nutrition education is being integrated into the school day. Yet, the question remains: how can we combine these independent efforts to better feed this upcoming generation? ScratchWorks was created to address that very question.
ScratchWorks began in the spring of 2019 with a commitment from six food service directors and six supporting organizations to envision what could be possible, to design a collective vision for the future of school meals. The effort began with one-on-one interviews followed by a two-day, in-person meeting in New York City in the summer of 2019, and continues today as an effort for and by food service directors. We all came together believing that the 31 million children eating school meals deserve the best food possible. Specifically, the 22 million children who rely on them. We are deliberately small and selective—a group of fewer than 15 participants. This allows us to innovate, to be nimble, and to deliver results.