November 14, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 46

Schools' kitchen remodel on deck for state funding

Petersburg School District kids will likely eat new and fresher foods at school if the district receives funding from the state to remodel the school’s kitchen.

Carlee Wells, Director of Child Nutrition for PSD, said she’s been pushing to renovate the kitchen since she started the job in 2011. Wells and head cook Carol Larson prepare breakfast and lunch for around 200 hungry students and employees every day. The kitchen, located in the elementary school, shares its space with the cafeteria and Wells said concern about cross contamination and safety is always on her mind.

“Having a real kitchen with real cooking equipment means we’re going to able to cook real food, better food,” Wells said.

Wells got creative cooking with the two ovens before the district bought a kettle.

“We’ve done soup in the oven,” Wells said. “We’ve boiled water in the oven and made rice in the oven, you can pretty much use the oven for everything.”

Wells said remodel funds would bring new and improved equipment that will give her the opportunity to grill and sauté food.

And instead of using the cafeteria tables for temporary storage and work- space, she’ll have closer access and more room to prepare food—eliminating the current hassle of moving things multiple times for lack of space.

“We come in and we’re on a dead run from the minute we get here,” Wells said. “That will help reduce the production time of simple daily tasks.”

The district wide food service renovations project made it to number eight on the state’s Department of Education capital improvement projects list for fiscal year 2015—a list that prioritizes school district project funding across Alaska.

While funding isn’t guaranteed, the state typically funds the top ten projects.

The project will cost around $1.5 million and the state would kick in about $1.1 if the project is approved.

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