A guest post from Chef Brian Sterner regarding his efforts with Saratoga Springs Schools.
I just want to keep everyone abreast to how we are doing in Saratoga Springs Schools.
After many weeks and speaking to many different folks I have finally kindled a relationship with the Director of Food Services for Saratoga Springs School District (Margaret Sullivan). I met with Margaret last week for about an hour and a half. We discussed the nationwide childhood obesity problem and how they have been combating it locally. I cannot speak to other districts but it seems that they have had a handle on this for a couple of years.
They started the process here with the Farms to Schools initiative. Due to this, they have built outstanding relationships with local farmers and have been serving these goods for a couple of years.
We both feel very strongly that this situation will only get better with proper education. We determined that as much as the student body needs to be educated, it will only hit home when the parents and administration become educated as well. There’s a lot of work to do and we want to get started right away!
So, less than a week later, I spent an entire morning with the local High School kitchen. Lets just say, it was an eye opening experience. So much that I will be back there on Friday doing a cooking demo with the cooks. It will be focused on Beans (of all colors, shapes & sizes). Each year they have tried to focus on a couple of areas knowing that they won’t be able to change overnight. They can’t seem to get the children to eat beans… Hopefully I can help. My mission was to find out what they do like and now I am going to find a way to work beans into those items. For example, they love corn and dips. So a Corn and Black Bean Salad and maybe a Bean Dip (they love hummus so I want to do something to that style). I will let you know how it goes!
My tour also showed where a big part of the challenge is. Local farmers can’t keep up with the demand and the price of healthy products through vendors. They rely heavily on government funding (in the form of food) and lets just say, there isn’t much healthy about those products. Processed Cheese Food, Canned (salt water) Vegetables, and Protein Flavored Bases are not the answer to a “Healthy America.” The challenge is set but we must obtain support from the top of the food chain (no pun intended).
Being a father of two young children I feel I have an obligation to teach my kids healthy eating choices. Being a Chef, I feel I have an obligation to teach others just the same. This is only the beginning, and as I continue to help the schools I will keep everyone informed.