Pillar 3 ~ Whole Foods

Pillar 3 ~ Whole Foods

Whole Foods – Harness the Power of Dissatisfaction!

I am back to continue my quest to create a sense of dissatisfaction with the current state of child nutrition programs. In my previous article, I talked about the state of school food service and the four pillars, essential to creating a CN program that will appeal to kids, serve quality, nutritious food and be financially self-supporting. There are great examples of district’s making the extra effort to improve both the appeal and nutrition of school meals, so it can be done! The changes brought by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has forced more fruits, veggies and whole grains onto the tray but unfortunately, in many cases, this has resulted in bland, less than satisfying meals. Getting more fresh fruits and veggies in front of kids is great, but continuing to serve them next to the same old processed crap (corn dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza, etc) that has been reformulated to include whole grains is not the answer! What is needed is a wholistic approach to the problem.

Just as the use of only one pillar in a construction project will not support the weight of an entire roof, neither will sustainable changes be made by focusing only on one of the four pillars of success in child nutrition. All four pillars work together to create and support a program that will improve quality and nutrition and get the kids to line up!

Whole foods must be emphasized in school meals. For the sake of quality and nutrition, we must move to a whole foods approach in our menus. REAL FOOD made from WHOLE FOOD ingredients that is skillfully cooked from scratch is the direction in which we need to move!

Is it as easy as that? Hell no! Did we get here overnight? Hell no, again! But it is the right way to go and it can be done! Can you do it alone? Maybe you can, but its a big job. Fortunately, there is a lot of potential energy to be found in corporate dissatisfaction! Harness it and use it for good! There are champions in your district, in your community and in your networks that you can join forces with.

Harness the power of dissatisfaction! Join forces! Start Anywhere! Take Action!

Pillar 2 ~ Scratch Cooking

Pillar 2 ~ Scratch Cooking

How to Create Sustainable, Positive Change in Child Nutrition Programs in These Days of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act

Perhaps you, too, have been feeling dissatisfied with the current state of child nutrition programming in the United States.

This is the third article in a series, highlighting each of the four foundational pillars that must be in place to grow a healthy, sustainable, high quality, child nutrition program. These pillars are Whole Foods, Scratch Cooking (which we will talk about today), Farm to School (local purchasing), and Marketing. Applying these four approaches will not only feed kids well and grow a vigorous program, but will also contribute to helping our industry pull out of the reputation nose dive that it has been in for years. It will also legitimatize the important work we do as food service directors. These are all good and desirable things!

Pillar #2 – Scratch Cooking:

As the commercial food industry continues working hard to make every kind of food product you can imagine easy and accessible for us to eat, we are losing the desire and ability to feed ourselves. “Slow food” is having a renaissance of late, so there is no doubt that we must get back in the kitchen with some whole foods and start cooking for ourselves again. More importantly, we have to cook real food for our children in our nation’s school meals programs.

I recognize that this is a bigger task for some schools than for others. Many schools moved so far away from the scratch cook model that they don’t have kitchens equipped to do any type of cooking or even reheating. If this is your situation, you certainly have more obstacles to overcome, but this is work important enough to begin advocating for updating your district’s facilities to accommodate the preparation of real food in the future. So take action!

If your schools already have the ability to do some scratch cooking, then it is so important to begin moving in that direction. Set a course and get started!

If you are already doing some scratch cooking, then plan to expand your scratch offerings. Plan it into your continuous improvement plans. Seek assistance from someone who is “a little further down the road” than you. The stakes are too high to let our egos get in the way, so ask for help!

If you have been part of the “real food in schools” movement for a while now, and are getting good at it, you should be offering others a hand. Offer to give neighboring district directors, and their key players, a tour of your operation. Get them excited about serving real food in their schools, too! Answer their questions and share your resources and while you’re doing all that, shout your efforts and accomplishments from the roof-tops (marketing)! The more we band together, the more sustainable the change will be and the faster change will occur. There is no reason any of us should have to rebuild the wheel. There are plenty of resources and many districts who are already doing this fantastic work that you can “go to school” on. Most of these directors are more than happy to share their experiences with you.

It’s time to begin the transition from the fast food/processed food model to the REAL FOOD model. We cannot afford to wait for more funding or a better situation. This work is too important to not take immediate action. The sooner you start the sooner you will see progress. The health of this and future generations depends on our commitment to this vision!

If you don’t know where to start, give me a call and we can talk about some ideas that will get you rolling in the right direction. I love to problem-solve and brainstorm and it will cost you nothing but a few moments of your time to have the conversation!

Kent Getzin



2017 Food Trends: REAL FOOD

2017 Food Trends: REAL FOOD

REAL FOOD, Made from Scratch, Using Wholesome Ingredients is Gonna Be HOT This Year!

This is the time when food writers make their best guesses about what will be the hottest, coldest, freshest, and tastiest food trends coming down the pike in the coming year. It’s fun to speculate right along with them, so try this one on for size!

REAL FOOD will make a comeback on school lunch trays in 2017!

The cool thing I noticed when I looked at this huge list of food trends from all over the internet is that it is filled with so many REAL FOODS! Whole foods, foods prepared from scratch. Foods that you won’t find in a brown box that simply requires reheating (well, OK…Tater Tots is on the list, but let’s ignore that one for the purpose of this article!).

If you’ve followed any of my recent articles, you will likely conclude that I am an advocate for improving the foods we serve to our nation’s children via the USDA Child Nutrition programs. My hope is to stir the pot a bit and generate some corporate dissatisfaction with the current state of school food service. The goal is to cast a vision for what a healthy, whole-foods approach to school food service could look like then harness the dissatisfaction with what currently exists to overcome resistance to making positive change. You may have seen this formula before (I don’t take credit for the formula, see this wikipedia entry for more info):

Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are:

D = Dissatisfaction: Get disgusted about the state of school food service! Watch this video, not so much for the content, although it is a shame what people think about school food. Simply cast your eyes upon the number of hits this piece of negative media about school food is receiving. People love to watch negative media about school food! Our industry is the brunt of so many jokes. We are the laughing stock of the food service industry. Except, it isn’t funny. Do you deserve this reputation?

V = Vision of what is possible: Build your program on these four pillars for success:

  1. Whole Foods
  2. Scratch Cooking
  3. Farm to School
  4. Consistent Marketing

F = First: Identify the first concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision.

There are innumerable ways to get started. Here are just four first steps to prime the pump and get the creative juices flowing:

  • Stop serving highly processed crap (nuggets, pockets, burritos, corn dogs, the list goes on) and replace it. Just pick one to start!
  • Start serving something you make from scratch. It really isn’t too hard! There are many scratch and fast-scratch menu items you can have a go at, and you can even utilize your commodity foods!
  • Start buying local foods for your program! Call a farmer! I promise they will love the idea of the getting the food they grow on your menu! Don’t know how to get started? Here is a great resource!
  • Start using salad bars/food bars/fresh fruit and veggie bars to give your kids as many self-serve, easy-to-prepare fresh, whole food choices as possible!

So now, lets resolve the formula. If the product of these three factors DxVxF is greater than R = Resistance then change is possible! Because D, V, and F are multiplied, if any one factor is absent (zero) or low, then the product will be zero or low and therefore not capable of overcoming the resistance.

You will likely meet some student and staff resistance when making these improvements but if you stick with it, the kids will come around and love the new, fresh food you start serving. Your staff will be proud to be doing the right thing and will enjoy learning some new technical skills!

Do some strategic thinking. Use your influence and create a compelling vision. Talk with your staff, students, and parents. There are champions to help you, right in your district. Just ask. Recognize and accept the dissatisfaction that exists, then leverage it for positive change.

Lets make 2017 the year of positive change in child nutrition! Share this with your colleagues. Get ticked off about the state of our industry and help make me right about my food trend prediction for 2017!

REAL FOOD, Made from Scratch, Using Wholesome Ingredients is Gonna Be HOT in 2017! 

Harness the power of dissatisfaction! Join forces! Start Anywhere! Take Action!