JH: I can’t say that I have.
MFBN: What will you do now to improve school meals/food/beverages now?
JH: We’re open to improving the foods. We have to figure out what the constraints are. Now that nutritional standards through the USDA have been improved we have to see how that works out. We have tried salad bars in some schools. I’m open to whatever we can do to improve school choices in our schools. Maybe some kids will come for the food. This would be a good conversation to have with Steve Youngbauer. I don’t know why anyone would not be open to improving the food. I do know that the kids don’t have enough time for lunch. I dont’ know what we do, but it is a long-running concern. It will be something we will take up with the new superintendent.
MFBN: Can you give us an example of when you’ve changed a food environment for the better?
JH: We try to have good food choices at home. For the most part we don’t have to make major changes, we try to eat appropriately…we’re raising kids. Our food environment is pretty good. We’ve never been much of a meat eating family.
MFBN: Have you read the 2010 Lunch Lessons Report?
JH: I have not read the report.
MFBN: I think it came out before you joined the board. The board hired Lunch Lessons LLC to come in to the district and evaluate our food services. What they found is that we have good staff and good facilities. But they did point out that the kids need more time to eat.
JH: I’m curious to know why we don’t do better. Do we have long term contracts with food companies? I don’t know why we offer what we offer. When you look at other places like colleges, they offer all these other things. For $6 bucks you can have all kinds of things. Why couldn’t we have that here? I don’t know…. The board has to get interested enough, and have a conversation about where we are and where we could be. We need every way we can to get kids interested in food because maybe that will keep them interested in coming to school. There are lots of important issues that come before the board and food should be elevated. If I’m elected this will be one of my priorities.
MFBN: There’s another consultant who helps school districts cook from scratch, and I’ve read her book Lunch Money. One of the really surprising things is that the USDA will give schools meat for the cost of shipping. So like $8 for a 40 pound box, and then the schools will turn around and send it off to a processor to be made into chicken nuggets and pay the processor $23.
JH: I didn’t know that. I’d be interested to have a conversation with Steve Youngbauer, bring him before one of our committees. That’s something worth thinking about. I wonder what other schools do.
MFBN: There are lots of other school districts who have made changes to their food. Schools with financial struggles. Places like Baltimore, Memphis, Boulder and Berkley. In Baltimore, Tony Geraci was the head of food service. He came in and one of the things he did was ask the kids for recipes. One of the kids gave him a recipe for a tortilla, spread with peanut butter, and wrapped around a banana for breakfast. I can think of a lot worse things for a kid to have for breakfast.
JH: You’re right.
MFBN: He also took some land the district owned and turned it into a farm. He had some of his staff and some teachers growing food for the kids. He said it was unacceptable that children in Baltimore had never tasted a peach. Can you imagine not ever having tasted a peach?
JH: No. I wouldn’t want that. Are there other schools of our size that have done this?
MFBN: Boulder and Baltimore are our size. There are also school districts here in Wisconsin. There’s a woman in Chilton named Diane Chapeta who has done amazing things in five years. She buys as much as she can afford from local farmers and in the fall she has her staff put up produce for use later in the year. Her food is so good that even though her high school students have an open campus the number of lunches the high school kids buy is rising.