SALAMANCA — The Salamanca City Central School District and Brigaid have begun a year-long partnership to support the district’s goals of transitioning to a self-operating food service program and improving the quality and ingredients of school meals for all Salamanca students.

The district is currently hiring a food service manager and will be hiring additional staff at a later date. Brigaid, a start-up food service corporation whose chefs provide hands-on training and practical solutions to institutional food service operations, will assist in training the newly hired food service manager

Brigaid will then support the new food service manager in building a self-operated, healthy school food program, which would launch on the first day of the 2021-22 school year in all three Salamanca school kitchens.

The public school district serves 1,400 students in Salamanca and surrounding communities. Located on the Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory, about 36% of the district’s student population is Native American. Brigaid and the chef director will also work with local Nation members to adapt indigenous recipes and foods to fit the NSLP guidelines, then feature these foods throughout the year on school menus.

Since the inception of the Healthy Hungry Free Act, students and staff have identified food selection, quality and variety as primary concerns of our food service program. More recently, students have specifically asked traditional indigenous foods be a regular part of the menu. Superintendent Robert Breidenstein said the district will be able to expand menu options and have an expanded menu by partnering with Brigaid.

Founded in 2016 by former Noma head chef Dan Giusti, Brigaid began challenging the school food status quo by putting professional chefs into public schools to cook fresh, wholesome food from scratch. In 2016, the company launched its first pilot program with the New London Public School district in New London, Connecticut.

Since then, Brigaid has partnered with several more East Coast school districts and expanded its reach into institutional kitchens of all kinds, still with the same approach of using hands-on, chef-led training to improve the taste and quality of institutional meals through scratch cooking.

“Our mission has typically been to help existing school food service programs around the country provide high quality meals for their students,” said Dan Giusti, founder and CEO of Brigaid. “The exciting part of this partnership with Salamanca is the opportunity to build a program with them from the ground up, then watch as Salamanca is able to sustain it. We are thrilled to be Salamanca’s partners in this process.”

(Contact editor/reporter Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com.)

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