4J Schools Find Fruits Of In-House Food

Dec 16, 2019

Jill Cuadros shows an image of the purple, "huckleberry" potatoes that were recently served in 4J cafeterias.
Credit Karen Richards

Eugene 4J schools started making food in-house this summer, ending a 21-year run of outsourcing. The transition is complex, but there are many fruits for the labor. 


Preparing meals for 34 schools means more than just chopping apples. There’s buying food, outfitting kitchens, training staff and more. 4J’s Nutrition Services Manager Jill Cuadros says they’ve developed a five-week menu cycle and hope to build on it: “In year two we want to continue to push the envelope, we want to trailblaze even more scratch cooking, even better recipes, sourcing more locally.” 

Cuadros says they’re already working with several local vendors, including Organically Grown and Surata Soyfoods: “It’s building capacity not only within our program and our nutrition, but it’s building capacity in the community.”


She says students like the colorful new salad bars, including fresh produce they might not have seen before. Recent offerings include a purple potato and kiwi berries.