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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tom Douglas Helping SPS Students Eat Better

Famous local chef, Tom Douglas, is lending his skills to creating recipes for lunches for SPS students and teaching district cooks how to make them. From the article at the Stranger Slog:

The partnership will allow Seattle Public Schools to serve made-from-scratch meals in its cafeterias for the first time.

The project is possible because of a $100,000 federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, said SPS Nutrition Services Director Eric Boutin. It's tied to Mayor Mike McGinn's Let's Move! program—launched yesterday—which seeks to end childhood obesity. (Note: this is First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! project.)

Nearly one-quarter of Seattle students in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades are overweight, with rates for Hispanic and African-Americans being even higher. I asked Boutin whether SPS had banned trans fats, preservatives, refined flour, high-fructose corn syrup, white bread, generic hot dogs and hamburgers, and extremely salty foods.

"We did get rid of some of them—we still have some frozen food, but there are lots of things we do from scratch," he said.

This is great but like many things, what happens when the outside money goes away? Can the district sustain this? I thought most cafeterias don't cook the food; it is only created at the district kitchens. Our new Nutrition Manager sure isn't letting any grass grow under his feet.

30 comments:

seattle said...

Who cares if the district can sustain this. They are doing it now.

Isn't something better than nothing? Let's take what we can get.

Patrick said...

Yes, at least it's being done for now. Perhaps once it's set up, ways to make meals from scratch as cheaply as premade can be found. Possibly other support can be found. At worst, we're no worse off than we are now.

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beansa said...

Why can't this just be about everyone eating high-quality healty food and getting some exercise? Why does it have to come wrapped up in a fat-shaming package?

Like there aren't any skinny kids who eat McDonalds and play videogames for hours every day. Whatever.

Sahila said...

I agree with beansa....

TechyMom said...

I think this is great, and I'll take it for as long as ican get it. This might actually encourage my family to use the cafeteria regularly, which would be very convenient.

seattle said...
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Noam said...

Did'nt most secondary schools just STOP making meals in the kitchens LAST YEAR?

We seem to recall that, as a matter of fact Charlie's post on it is still under "Lunches" on the blog.

This is great and exciting news but I suspect a typical District "spin" here.

seattle said...

I agree Techymom. My kids have refused to eat cafeteria food for years, not only because of the quality of the food but also because of the enormous lines. It would be great, and so convenient for me, if they ate in school sometimes.

It sounds like the new Nutrition Manager is a keeper. I wonder what the results of the $1 breakfast were? Good, bad,or ugly, at least he tried something. I haven't seen anything progressive happening in food service since Brita removed the coke machines, and pushed for local fruits and vegetables (the latter of which really never materialized).

Now if someone could tackle the long lunch lines. My kids high school has only one lunch shift, and long long lunch lines. My other kid goes to one of the over crowded schools, and even though they have different lunch shifts, the line is so long you barely have time to sit and eat after you get your lunch. Much easier to just bring a sack lunch, eat it, and have a few minutes to socialize with your friends.

Noam said...

To answer my own question: Yes, Charlie's post was from March of 2009 and the "trucking in" of pre-made meals began in September of 2009.

We applaud the change on the "new" plan but suspect that it is not as simple as it looks. Will the workers be getting the time it takes to actually prepare meals? Or simply be expected to prepare them in "pre-made, heat & serve" time?

Ed said...

Our kids go to McClure Middle School and lines were not a problem until this year (on top of the pre-made meals that Noam is correct, began last year) when 3 lunch periods were compressed into just 2.

Now, the lines are long and my kids don't want to wait. What were decision makers thinking?

Is the District going to support the lunch program or not?

Sahila said...

When I went to school, and when my older children went to school (in other countries), we had an hour for lunch... plenty of time to eat and socialise, and a real break...

Very civilised, it was...

Pity being civilised and humane is not a factor in today's education system...

But then our kids are just widgets in a production line, arent they?... Cant waste time on "unproductive" activities - the clock's ticking, time costs money...

And hey, we've got to get them indoctrinated into what they must do without complaining when they go to work....

Really, we're not being cruel or mean or insensitive - we're just preparing them for the 'realities' of life - we're doing them a favour, dontcha know!

Yeah right....

Anonymous said...

Sahila

When I looked at Charlie's 2009 "Lunches" post this morning I also read the one about Cleveland from this last summer, and the comments.

I can't believe that administration at Cleveland actually advocated for kids there WALK down to fast food joints down on Michigan and back during one 30 inute lunch period!

They just could care less about those kids if they would adopt a schedule that would have them crossing Airport Way like that. I could'nt make that.

Did I hear that Cleveland saw the light and has 2 periods so that kids aren't chased off campus like that? Does anyone know?

Melissa Westbrook said...

What were decision makers thinking?

They weren't. It's not them waiting in line.

This happens at a lot of the high schools (I'm sure at Garfield it's downright hilarious) and the larger middle schools. Eckstein's cafeteria looks like a hurricane hit it after lunch.

This is one of those unpleasant things you find out about as an SPS parent and principals just have a what-can-we-do attitude. (Also, the time for lunch periods used to swing wildly a few years back - I recall that Garfield had something like 40 minutes and another school had something like 25 minutes.

Noam said...

Board policy says students must have time to clean up, eat and have a few minutes to talk (I can't quote it) but no one (it starts at the top) seems to pay any attention to policy anymore.

It's downright embarassing except for the points Sahila and Melissa make.

Anonymous said...

This is great news, I hope the meals will be made available to all schools. Now if only the kids had better choices for food in the businesses around the school. I drive pass Ballard High everyday, and the closest restaurant around there is advertising a hot dog, chips and soda meal for $3.75. Imagine your kids eating this everyday! Last year the same restaurant had a french dip special for $5.95; I wish they had continued with that instead. The other closest restaurant is pizza. Pizza and hot dog and soda, OH MY!

SPS Parent

Ed said...

Hey SPS Parent

Have you ever tried sharing with your child that you wished they did'nt eat junk at restaurants off campus? That might be a good start.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Parent, the kids at Roosevelt seem to exist on chips and a soda at lunch. My son would go anywhere he could get a $5 or less meal. It's a little frightening how poorly most of them eat at lunchtime.

Anonymous said...

Ed,
My kids are in elementary school, they do not go off campus to eat! However, I do know many high schools students do. I guess your point is that their parents should tell them not to eat junk. Is it your experience that teenagers always listen to their parents?

SPS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ed, stop laughing now.

Do teenagers always listen to their parents? No, they don't. I think if you have modeled good eating patterns and have good snacks available at home, they will likely chose something better (i.e. milk or juice rather than soda). Most teens won't bring their lunch but maybe if a piece of fruit or a protein bar found its way into their backpack, it might get eaten.

Ed said...

No Parent and I'm sorry to come off a bit preachy. I just wish I could do some things over again myself.

Our kids attended north end a high school (not Ballard) and left campus at lunch. Our youngest (he is 20 now and is finally coming out of some bad habits he developed then) tells me that french dips were not the least of what was available and regularly purchased at these places.

Those with other "wares" (if you get my drift) to sell, who would be noticed loitering around campus by adults/security/other kids, were usually to be found around the crowd hanging out at the fast food joints.

When he shared that with me, I looked back and remember in the (my) ancient past that was true as well. Most of the bad habits I was exposed to at that age were at similar joints.

Hindsight being 20/20 I regret I did not see as clearly then.

Tech said...

Thats right Noam. Secondary Schools were cooking most meals from scratch until last year.

I just hope marks a return to than and this isn't a just PR spin.

Noam said...

Good point Melissa

And if a pre-paid sum is available (for those items) at the school lunchroom, kids would be MUCH more apt to stay on campus rather than spend precious personal money on junk.

Tech said...

That's right Noam. Secondary Schools were cooking most meals from scratch until last year.

I just hope marks a return to that and this isn't a just PR spin.

Chris S. said...

LOL - Didn't I read somewhere that Tom Douglas puts bacon in everything? That's why it's so good!

My kid at triple-shift Eckstein takes a snack; there is not even time to eat a real lunch. I'm OK with that - she eats more (and some of it refrigerated, warmed, and/or healthy) when she gets home at 3. Still...I wonder about the brain-fuel for those last few periods. As an adult who eats in 10 minutes at my desk while working, I can't really get on my high horse, though.

Patrick said...

I agree, Sahila. When I was in school, lunch was 50 minutes, if I remember correctly. Enough time to wait in line, eat, run around and play or socialize. There were also 20 minutes of morning recess and 20 minutes of afternoon recess. The school day was longer, so we didn't do without any class time. Kids WILL take a break to socialize -- the only question is whether it's when they're supposed paying attention to class.

TechyMom said...

I've read several articles about what they're doing in Berkeley, "from scratch" and "on site" are different things. From scratch means baking chicken legs instead of throwing nuggets in the fryer or making spaghetti sauce from tomatoes instead of a can. You can do from scratch or packaged at either a central or an on-site kitchen.

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Anonymous said...

Funny how the established past proven production methods were so quickly abandoned by the exiting director of Nutrition Services. It is refreshing to know they are now being revisited and hailed as the preferred method by our new Director Eric. One can only hope that common sense and logic continues to dictate here and that there is not a hidden agenda.

Longtime Production Manager