School lunches in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) may have a more home-cooked taste in the next school year with the nutrition staff creating some original recipes that make use of fresh, locally sourced food.

The district recently received an $8,500 grant from the California Department of Education in a Taste of California Standardized Recipe Challenge. LVJUSD was one of 20 school districts statewide, and the only one in Alameda County, to receive recipe challenge grants.

The grant will allow the district’s Child Nutrition team to develop entree or side dish recipes using locally California-grown products such as avocados, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, lentils, lemons, zucchini, and parsnips.

“The first recipe to showcase in our school kitchens will be Brentwood corn, roasted and brought to life with seasonings such as cilantro and panela cheese and served in our Calimex bowl,” said Dana Dodge, the district’s director of Child Nutrition Services.

For the recipe to qualify as a USDA Certified Standardized Recipe, the LVJUSD Child Nutrition team will prepare the recipe three times to standardize the process and yield. The team will then ask students to taste test the recipe before offering the entree as part of the school menu.

“I am thrilled to put some real culinary details into a dish that will bring scratch cooking principles into the schools,” Dodge said.