Friday, September 03, 2010

Hey, It's Friday and Time for Some Happy News

Lots to blog about with articles coming in fast about the teacher contract.

But first, this pause for some GOOD news about our district.

At the Board meeting on Wednesday night, the new director of Nutrition Services was introduced. His name is Eric Boutin and comes to us by way of the Auburn School District. What he said had me floored and then, very happy.

Mr. Boutin is on a mission to provide Seattle Public Schools children better food AND as much of it coming locally (Washington State) as possible. Basically, it's more decent fruit and vegetables.

First up is taking a hard look at breakfast. He will be running a high school promotion to get more students (not just free and reduced lunch) to eat breakfast. It turns out (and no surprise to parents of teens including Director Carr who said it was a problem at her house) that teens don't always eat breakfast. We all know what happens with any hungry kid, lack of attention and focus.

He is creating a $1 breakfast at the high schools. He didn't completely flesh out what it would be but likely fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, etc. A dollar (I'm not sure you can get that at McDonalds with a drink).

He is going to pilot this for 70 days in the high schools and see what the response is. He did tell the Board about the money they will lose from the reduced price (but hey, it's less than the retirement party cost) but feels it is worth the effort.

All the Board members were very impressed. Harium asked about how to get local food and Mr. Boutin said that they had been able to get watermelons from Eastern Washington and locally grown cucumbers for the RBHS school kick-off event held last week. Sherry said this had been reviewed in the Audit and Finance committee. Mr. Boutin said they had doubled the number of students using the cafeteria in Auburn. Peter said he was pleased to see that Mr. Boutin had come in with specific goals and a timeline (something he said that he wished all staff would do). Kay said that she loved the idea and that Portland schools has been doing something like this and maybe Mr. Boutin could contact them about their program.

BUT Mr. Boutin is going to need parent support.

So please, if you see something in the first day packets about the program, please encourage your teen to check it out. If it is a success, they could probably move on to all schools. Let the Board know you support this idea. Now that we have someone who is willing to implement it, let's support Mr. Boutin and his plan and get better, fresher food into our cafeterias.

22 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

YAY!

Yay! for someone new in charge!

Yay! for a goal, timeline, and a budget!

Yay! for local fresh food!

Yay! for one dollar little breakfasts at high schools!

YAY!!

dan dempsey said...

Very Nice..... Any idea how much they plan to lose per breakfast? It will be interesting to get the 70 day report.

dan dempsey said...

I received word that there was a video SNAFU and the streaming video of the board meeting of 9-1=10 will not be up until sometime next week.

Steve said...

This is terrific...

Rabbit said...

Wow, wow and double wow!

seattle citizen said...

I love this idea, I'm completely in support of it. Esciting way to get to work, providing affordable and healthy breakfasts. Brain food!

owlhouse said...

This is fantastic! I hope that schools that are already working on improving school meal offerings can share their efforts with Mr. Boutin.

So very exciting!

MathTeacher42 said...

THIS IS GREAT!

I'm going to forward a link to this diary to my Franklin staff ... hopefully someone has some ideas / bandwidth to really push this.

I see my kids sitting around in the morning eating fried who knows what, with a "juice" containing ... 17g of sugars for 4 or 6 ounces?

brain food ... ? maybe for playing XboxAtari drool on your keyboard-controller-pad.

too bad cost analysis and benefit analysis wasn't better - how can the cost of the community spending a few grand per school to make sure the community's kids have some high quality fuel - how can that NOT pay off, other than our counting systems are too incompetent to figure out the value.

BM

Sahila said...

I dont know why the District doesnt go the whole Jamie Oliver hog...

http://www.jamieoliver.com/news/jamie-oliver-kickstarts-a-revolution-in

I watched part of the series as he tried to introduce healthy eating into high schools... you should have seen the resistance he encountered... shameful... he persevered and won out in the end but it was awful to watch the stupid adults trying to sabotage him...

Anonymous said...

This IS happy news. I was just reading last week about Portland PS healthy lunch program and wishing we had same here.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/08/dont_faint_in_the_school_lunch.html

A Baker

wsnorth said...

In case nobody checked, there are not many locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables available in Seattle during the school year. Sounds like more frozen goop to me, with a spin.

I'm not so sure why it is "terrific" for people like me who actually feed my children to have more education $$ going to subsidize other people's bad choices.

Josh Hayes said...

well, wsnorth, I have to think that a lot of kids eating crappy foods isn't so much a matter of "bad choices".

At my own kids' school, for instance, we typically have several homeless kids enrolled during the year, as well as a number of not-quite-homeless kids. I think providing actual food for them is a pretty good idea.

Moreover, a lot of kids come from houses with lousy food even if they HAVE money -- it's always been surprising to me when my kids have friends over and they say things like, "MAN, you have a lot of fruit." What, doesn't everybody? Well, no. They don't.

It's my understanding, however, that locally-sourced foodstuffs are, as you point out, seasonally restricted. To which I say, don't get hung up on it: local sourcing is devoutly to be wished, but not the sine qua non of a good school food program.

wsnorth said...

We get the "fruit and vegetable" thing from visitors to our house, too. I agree the food could be better, that seems a no brainer, but it is foolish to waste money sourcing it locally during most of the school year here. That would be hothouse grown ($$$$) or maybe potatoes and root vegetables after September, who is going to eat those? We get great vege's and fruits from god only knows where all year long, go with the low cost supplier, and use the "extra" money to buy some decent math books.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...other people's bad choices."

I'm sorry, I don't understand that statement. Could you clarify?

(As I stated in the thread, Mr. Boutin is locating food sources within the Puget Sound area and within Washington state. Apparently, there is a small growing area right by RBHS.)

wsnorth said...

I know some of you have children. Do any of them eat cucumbers and watermelon for breakfast? Do you? I get feeding FRL kids healthy stuff, if they'll eat it, but to heavily subsidize breakfast for the other 60% of students just because their parents are too busy or whatever to make sure their kids get a decent breakfast? That seems like a bad choice to me - both on the parent's part and in allocating scarce school $$$. I'm kind of shocked I'm alone on the negative side here - better food, sure, but this is Seattle, there is practically NO fresh, local food between November and May. The idea of feeding fresh local food for breakfast in the winter and spring in Seattle just seems so foolish to me.

Jan said...

WSNorth - you have a point. But
I think there are lots of kids who still won't eat at school. Either they get their watermelon and cukes at home -- or they are still so tired at 7:45 (since data suggests their bodies still won't wake up for 2 hours -- data that somehow didn't "drive" any decisions on high school start times) that they just aren't hungry, period. So -- I say, let's give this a shot and see whether this guy can make reasonable cost choices and whether the benefits (good, fresh food for some kids who REALLY need it) don't outweigh the detriments (the risk of feeding a few who don't, and squandering money MGJ could have used for the next retirement bash she wanted to throw or for the next Broad intern she wanted to smuggle onto her lean and reduced staff).

Also, I might be more inclined to quibble if it was a question of say -- $1 breakfasts or Singapore math books, or $1 breakfasts or more IAs for ELL kids. But with this administration -- none of that is on the table anyway. So, if it is $1 breakfasts -- something that actually reaches kids (even in the form of cucumbers), and isn't squandered on MAP tests, curriculum coaches, or STEM contracts for a giant technology platform we don't need -- I guess I will take any $1s that actually get to kids over all the $1s and $1,000,000s that don't.

Sahila said...

People lived here for hundreds of generations eating seasonal food... we are killing the planet eating non-seasonal food produced in other countries and then transported here... time we stopped that; good place to start teaching about that is in our school cafeterias... there is good food available in the autumn, winter and spring here - we just need to adjust our thinking and expectations...

http://www.sustainabletable.org/shop/seasonal/

http://www.simplesteps.org/eat-local/state/washington

Patrick said...

People did live here before canning, refrigeration, and freight from warmer climates. But the diet was quite monotonous and poorly balanced seven months of the year. Lots of the root vegetables that did grow and those crops that can keep in a chilly cellar, along with hunting.

Unless he said so, I would expect Boutin means fresh and local food when they're available and from farther away when they're not. This is a good idea.

It's not a question of good math books vs. subsidized breakfast. Cutting the breakfast wouldn't get us better math books. For that matter, Singapore math books seem to be quite a bit cheaper than Everyday & Discovering.

dan dempsey said...

Patrick,

Nice work. Return On Investment.
Good Breakfast must be a net plus and a big one.

Now about those consultants ... not much return there. Plus maybe those ($10.5 million) Academic coaches for teachers would have had more impact if they had been preparing breakfast for students.

Rabbit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rabbit said...

"I know some of you have children. Do any of them eat cucumbers and watermelon for breakfast?"

Um wsnorth, the watermelon and cucumbers were not for breakfast, they were for an RBHS kickoff event and, my kids would have loved to eat them there. But what's so wrong with watermelon with breakfast anyway? Or berries? Or other seasonal fruits?

My son only ate breakfast at school one time (about 6 years ago), and never wanted to again. I was with him as I was driving on a field trip and we were running late so decided to try breakfast at school. The breakfast offered was a cinnamon roll with a huge side of icing. Really, SPS? Really? And then we'd expect those kids to sit in a classroom and concentrate?

My kids love fruits and veggies, and I'm ecstatic to hear that they were offered at the RBHS school event - instead of the typical fattening, artery clogging, empty calorie choices like chips and dip, soda, hot dogs, etc.

And, Josh I hear you. I get the same response from kids that visit my house (and they are mainly middle class and upper middle class kids). They can't believe we don't have pop in our fridge or sugary cereals in the cabinets. I offer them carrots and ranch or some other "kid friendly" healthy choice, and am shocked to hear things like "I don't eat vegetables" or "I've never had mango, or kiwi, or??"

I'm no health fanatic, but I do try to make reasonably healthy choices when it comes to what I'm putting into my kids bodies. Personally, I couldn't be happier to see that SPS is moving towards healthier choices in schools.

Working Together said...

Gardener here: this is not all breakfast food but I think you get the drift-- I just planted my winter garden for peas and lettuces. Sometimes get a good harvest by Xmas. Kales and collards and cabbage already sprouting. Fava beans grow all winter, start producing in Feb. Also, don't forget Easter WA wheat in baked goods and, the kicker.... local eggs! Bye-bye salmonella, we hope.