With the nation’s largest school district food production facility, Houston ISD Nutrition Services has a lot on its plate preparing more than 270,000 meals each day for delivery to schools across the greater Houston area.
But the Nutrition team still makes time to educate the community about the importance of eating well, with personalized tours of its state-of-the-art Bennington Road facility, where workers can bake up to 15,000 rolls in an hour and cook 400 gallons of gumbo at a time.
The sheer magnitude of the operation impressed a group of cub scouts, who took a recent tour of the 220,000 square foot facility as part of the work to earn their fitness badges.
The interactive walk-through included hair nets for all the boys and a quick lesson on the importance of food safety, including storing and cooking foods to the right temperatures. The cubs also got a behind-the-scenes look at how the spaghetti sauce is made, before being delivered to the schools, where it’s served over pasta with cheesy bread.
The 90-minute tour included other interesting stops, such as the bakery, where a big vat of dough was being kneaded before heading to the oven.
“Did you know that one bowl of hamburger bun dough makes 960 buns?” Lydia Rivera, Nutrition Services Tour Guide, asked the youngsters from Pack 558. “Also, the production facility makes 150 kolaches per minute.”
The sights and smells were a good appetizer for a sit-down lunch, where HISD’s dietitian Nan Cramer talked to the scouts about strategies for eating well, including making sure meals include fruits, vegetables, protein foods, whole grains and dairy.
With more than 50 tours at the facility each month, Cramer enjoys talking to community groups about HISD’s commitment to serving healthy meals. “I was very impressed with the knowledge of the scouts and their fascination with learning about our production center,” Cramer said.