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Patrick and Nicole DePula opened Salvatore's Tomato Pies in October 2011 with the goal of creating handcrafted pizzas and other dishes with locally sourced ingredients. The original Sun Prairie location has been a booming success, and a Madison location is scheduled to open in November at the former Madtown Pizza spot on Johnson Street; plans are also under way for a flagship restaurant in Verona.
Patrick DePula also recently took his expertise in preparing foods with local ingredients to Immaculate Heart of Mary school cafeteria in Monona.
"Back in August I was asked if I could help out in the cafeteria at my kids' school because the food service director had to take family leave," says DePula. Along with sourcing ingredients at the Dane County Farmers' Market and from Sal's regular vendors, DePula helps plan from-scratch meals.
The program has been quickly embraced, says DePula. "Immaculate Heart of Mary school has now elected to drop out of the state Department of Public Instruction nutrition program on a test basis, because not only are we serving lunches that are above and beyond their requirements, we're saving money by making things from scratch."
DePula says his lunches are a healthy alternative to those in most schools that rely heavily on processed foods.
"November's menu sees refined sugar down by 70%, sodium cut by 40%, and the kids are eating healthy proteins, local vegetables, fresh fruits and much more whole grain.
"It's a work in progress, for sure," DePula adds. "But when fourth-graders are coming back for seconds on kale and broccoli, it sure feels like winning."
DePula is now also working on a school nutrition initiative with the Madison Area Chef Network that could potentially go citywide. He says the network is currently converting to a 501(c)3 organization and will soon start looking for grants and contributions to get the program off the ground.
Many members of the network are interested in participating, says DePula.
"There are political obstacles for sure, but we're a pretty dedicated and persistent group."