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Stacy Koppen

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Stacy Koppen, Foodservice Director

Stacy Koppen
foodservice director

St. Paul Public Schools
St. Paul, MN

Operating a school foodservice program in a large city can be a challenge. Budget and nutritional requirements must be met, and meals to meet a wide range of expectations must be offered. Stacy Koppen, foodservice director of Saint Paul Public Schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Nutrition Services team face just such a challenge. Factor in a wonderfully diverse student population composed of 80% students of color, and it’s easy to see why it’s an intriguing foodservice puzzle to figure out. Yet, SPPS goes the extra mile to be sure, despite all barriers, students are seen, heard and included in menu planning.

Minnesota is home to the largest number of Somali Americans in the country, and adding authentic Somali foods was among key priorities for the district. Seeing the need for inclusion and representation of all students, the team set out to find foods that would be familiar and popular. Through research, they discovered a local company called HOYO (a Somali word meaning “mother”) who offer a Somali delicacy called Sambusas, savory fried pastries filled with beef or lentils. SPPS added them to the menu and they were an instant hit with the entire student population. The menu addition has the related benefit of supporting a growing locally-owned business that employs and empowers Somali women.

Stacy and the team’s dedication, compassion, hard work and understanding that food’s emotional power is just as critical as its nutritional value demonstrates how they’re true champions for students. This is a shining example of how one can make a difference, ensuring every part of the school, including the lunchroom, is a place where all students can feel comfortable.

To get a peek at what’s happening with the nutrition services at Saint Paul Public Schools, visit their website and watch this Minnesota Department of Education video.


Saint Paul samosas served at lunch

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    See how Stacy Koppen goes the extra mile to serve St. Paul’s Somali students.

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