Glenwood Springs High School’s cookin’ now |

Glenwood Springs High School’s cookin’ now

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” It wasn’t the dismal April weather that kept students at Glenwood Springs High School from crossing the street for lunch at City Market. Instead, it was the fact that for the first time in nearly 15 years students had the option to eat a fresh-cooked meal from the school’s very own kitchen, and they ate in the newly added cafeteria.

It was a long-awaited treat for all.

“This is great for the kids,” said retired GSHS teacher and current substitute Mike Wilde. “The variety and the quality of the food is fantastic. It’s great for students and faculty.”

Freshmen Chad Montover couldn’t have agreed more.

“It’s nice not having to go to City Market for lunch,” said Montover. “But it’s more that it’s got great food.”

Montover was anxious to chow down a freshly prepared slice of pizza for lunch and hurried to grab a seat as the cafeteria quickly filled to capacity Monday morning.

The new addition to the school is not only a cafeteria that will provide a nutritional option for lunch and keep students at school during lunch, for kitchen manager David Avalos, it’s another way for students to learn the fundamentals of another valuable subject: nutrition.

“We are trying to begin the nutritional education process over again,” Avalos said. “But the beginning has been incredibly smooth.”

Avalos and his assistant kitchen manager, Pam Davis, are actually certified chefs and are hoping to use their nutritional knowledge to influence the way students think about eating, rather than just preparing food for them to eat. The two chefs have worked in the past for the Culinary Caregivers Collaborative, whose focus is to address nutritional concerns from a medical perspective, and Avalos hopes to promote healthy eating with every meal he prepares.

“We are trying to just take a radically different approach to (school lunches),” Avalos said. “We try to utilize as much fresh and from-scratch material as possible.”

Besides using the freshest ingredients and even organically raised beef for hamburgers, all of the utensils and plastic plates are made from “green” environmentally friendly materials. Promoting more than just personal nutrition, but sustainable sensibility, too. But it’s the students that have fashioned the way this kitchen works, according to Avalos. At least they had a say.

“What we are trying to do is take a careful look at what the students are asking for,” Avalos said. “The use of green materials was a big one for them.”

You couldn’t tell that Monday as all the students gathered around the tables in the cafeteria to eat lunch. They were all focused on the different options of food. GSHS Principal Paul Freeman and assistant principal Gayla Rowe joined students in the new digs for a hot meal.

Freeman for one was happy to not be eating leftovers for lunch again, but the importance of having a good nutritional meal for the students is his main concern.

“When you take into account how valuable food is in our culture, it’s a very important part of an education,” Freeman said. “Not having a kitchen was a large void in our provision.”

While the new kitchen brings the school up to date, it also takes them into a future that Avalos hopes will provide more than just a hot lunch for students.

“The long-term hope is to do some pretty radical things,” Avalos said.

Avalos has ideas about a student-based catering program and has thought about developing a culinary program in the high school for students interested in the culinary arts as a career.

“We are also looking to do some community-based cooking classes, too,” Avalos said. “It’s an amazing kitchen. To not utilize its potential would be a waste.”

The kitchen’s one drawback with the new setup is that it’s not on the federal lunch program that provides schools with financial assisted lunch programs. GSHS doesn’t qualify for those programs and will have to create some other ways of generating funds. But that is where some of the other programs will come into play, according to Avalos.

“The initial response has been overwhelming,” Avalos said. “One of the most important things is to keep the students involved. We talk to them all the time and get their insights and hear what they want. From there we take it and do what we know how to.”

They definitely know how to make a tasty meal.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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