Aug 24, 2017

Successful First Week of Smart Mouth Pizza Program at High Schools

Picture of personal pizzas from the high school

Pickerington high school students have a hot, new lunch item on the menu this year: fresh, personal pizzas. Smart Mouth Pizza is a program out of Atlanta, Georgia, that provides school lunch programs with the necessary tools and training to create personal-sized pizza in their own cafeteria daily.

The Smart Mouth Pizza Program provides the schools with all the supplies needed to create the personal pizzas. Both high schools have their own oven specifically for the pizzas.

“All of the pizzas meet the requirements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” said Judy Riley, the Food Services Supervisor for Pickerington Schools. All of the recipes from Smart Mouth follow the guidelines of the act, so the school is in compliance with federal nutritional values.

Riley and two head cooks in the district attended a 3-day training with Smart Mouth Pizza last spring, when they were able to ask questions and learn about making the pizzas.

Each pizza has a whole grain honey wheat flour crust that meets federal whole grain requirements.

Pizza options available include plain cheese, veggie, pepperoni, and supreme pepperoni and sausage ranging between 390 and 430 calories. Extra toppings can be added for a higher price.

For now, students can order the personal pizza for lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Ingredients for the pizzas are delivered weekly.

“People are dining out more, restaurants are our competitors, and we like to think of ourselves as an innovative food service department,” said Riley. “We want to market to our teens and the foods they like while staying in compliance with the healthy regulations.”

After pitching the program to the school board, the district decided to pilot Smart Mouth Pizza in the high schools. Week one proved it to be a success.

Riley said the goal is to sell about 400 or 500 personal pizzas a day. On the first day both high schools sold out before lunch was over.

“You walk into the kitchen and it just hits you, it smells so good,” said Riley.  “They are selling like hot cakes. The most important part is that they meet the nutritional requirement.”

The preparation for the pizzas is a two day process. They pan the frozen dough the night before serving and put it into the walk-in cooler to allow the dough to thaw and begin rising. At 6 a.m. the following morning a cook pulls them out to allow the dough to rise. Then the dough is prepared with sauce and toppings.

The oven takes two minutes and 34 seconds to cook the pizzas. Rows of three pizzas go through one after another.

Food Services is constantly thinking about what else it can do, new things, to market to these kids to keep them eating lunch at school, Riley said.

Although the pizza is only offered at the high school locations, Riley said food services tried a new baked potato bar at the middle schools in the district for the first week of school.