Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10 positive things about my school cafeteria that have happened over a year and a half.

My last post was pretty negative.  So here’s something a little happier: 

Ten positive things:
1.      Locally-made bagels that often arrive warm replaced frozen bagels.  
2.      Recycling program for cardboard, glass, aluminum, and plastic has reduced kitchen trash drastically.
3.      Preferential ordering of local produce from an in-state farm. By the end of this school year about
o   70% of all apples, carrots, pickles at our school come from the farm.
o   100% of butternut squash and turnips come from the farm.
4.      Commitment to using reusable plates, soup bowls, utensils when possible, which means less paper plates, foam bowls and plastic silverware in our trash bins.
5.      First 100% made-from-scratch soup was served at lunch this year, butternut squash soup, and everyone can tell it doesn’t come from a can!
6.      Quinoa, bulgur, and crimson lentils are some of the whole grains and legume introduced to the soup and salad bars.
7.      Local peaches served to the school for the first time in the fall. 
8.      100% recycled paper napkins replaced all our napkins; began using a napkin dispenser that encourages people to take just one – less is more!  
9.      Reusable squeeze bottles for ketchup and mustard replace the thousands of plastic packets that end up in the garbage.
10.  Our budget is the same as before we made these changes (and in fact, if all goes well for the rest of this school year, the budget just might be LESS than that of last year.)
***I don’t understand, I thought improving school lunch would be really hard and costly??  The changes I made were the EASIEST to implement and don’t involve costly changes such as expanding the kitchen or hiring a chef.  For example, changing where we buy apples is fairly easy.  It involved a substitution of suppliers from a large food company to a local farm.  I made the change after researching that apples generally cost the same or less from a farm, after all, local apples don’t need to be trekked across the country on a gas-guzzling truck.


  1. Those are some great advances! How about getting with a science teacher and building a wormery to recycle all the food & paper waste? The castings could be sold to fund extras.

  2. Actually, the kitchen is going to send food waste to a composting facility very shortly:) I'll be sure to put up a post about it once we get started.

  3. AWESOME job! I was so shocked to walk into my kids' caf. and find styrofoam and plastic and catsup packets. What the---?!? It was Earth Day the week before and they were preaching reduce/re-use/recycle and the garbage cans were FULL of waste. And, as the food with basically wretched, THAT was wasted as well.

    My 1st-grader had the rare hot lunch that day, it was;
    --'lasagna', one side burnt, other side frozen, in a plastic-topped paper container.
    --2 pieces of brown-colored white bread (you know what I mean)
    --a bag of tasteless baby carrots--these were nasty-tasting, way to encourage veggie-eating!
    --milk or chocolate milk
    --a GIANT cookie-it was as big as my hand, not kidding

    I looked on in horror and, as it was a 'special' day, there were other parents around as well who were equally as grossed out. The teacher cringed in sympathy and said they'd been complaining about the meals for quite some time and were told our school had 'some of the best in the district'.

    I thought I made my kids lunch to be thrifty. But then I realized it was MUCH more healthy than the nastiness they were handed on their lunch tray.

    We are in a new school district, this month the main dishes are
    Turkey Corn Dogs
    Mini Turkey Corn Dogs
    Pizza (of course)
    bean and cheese burritos
    chix alfredo
    meat patty

    Main food groups? Fat, salt, sugar, starch.

    THANK YOU for making a difference in your school. Wanna come to ours? Please? :-)