School Food Workshop: Healthy Food for Healthy Students

You know it's a great event when you're greeted at the door by folks in carrot and peapod costumes!  (Thanks Keith and Sara, from the School Food Tour!)

On April 18th, Arcadia's D.C. Farm to School Network hosted a workshop 40 Washington, DC school food stakeholders, in partnership with OSSE and DCPS.  The goal of the workshop was to get students and staff on board with the healthier types of foods being served in school meals.  Because all too often schools have healthy, farm-fresh food on the menus, but cafeteria staff aren't thrilled to serve it and students are more inclined to just throw it away.

The workshop opened with a keynote address from Ms. Anand Shantam, a cook at Walker Jones Education Campus with DC Central Kitchen's Fresh Start Catering.  A graduate of DCCK's culinary job training program, Ms. Shantam spoke of how she treats the students she serves as family, which helps create a culture of respect and curiosity in the cafeteria.

Alyssa Moles came all the way from the Food Trust in Philadelphia to speak to attendees about getting cafeteria staff buy-in around serving healthy, farm-fresh foods.  Then, our panel presentation included tales of:
  • A school full of students who demolish salad bars (Lisa Dobbs, the Chef and Director E.W. Stokes Public Charter School's school meal program); 
  • A seamless team of dedicated cafeteria staff called the Dream Team (Sandy Hodge, Cafeteria Lead at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School with Chartwells); 
  • How DC Central Kitchen's Fresh Start Catering staff treat the school kitchen like it's their own kitchen (Ed Kwitowski, Executive Chef for DCCK's school contracts);
  • How a principal leads the charge at her school to engage students, staff, parents and teachers in an integrated school health & nutrition program - she eats the school meals every day! (Principal Janeece Docal at Powell Elementary School); and
  • How a school food service vendor doesn't just serve food, but engages the entire school community in hands-on "food awareness" (Sadie Barr, a School Account Manager a Revolution Foods).
After the panel, we took a break and attendees enjoyed snacks from Chipotle and Rockin' Red Radish Salsa made by our very own Chef Tom.  Both were a big hit!  Folks broke in to groups for some in-depth discussions about breaking down the biggest barriers to getting students and staff on board with healthy school food.  Next was a much anticipated screening of the student-made documentary "School Lunch," and a conversation with former Thurgood Marshall Academy High School students Keith Jenkins and Brittany McGhee who produced and edited the film.

Finally, we were honored to have Ward 3 Councilmember and Chair Pro-Tempore Mary Cheh share some closing remarks, and raffle off some great items from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and USDA.  We were also joined by special guests Christina Connel from USDA's Farm to School team, and Sandy Schlicker, Deputy Superintendent of Education.  Many thanks to all who made the event a success!


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