20 Most Influential: Tim Cipriano, New Haven Public Schools

Known as the Local Food Dude, Cipriano has made it his mission to bring healthy, sustainable fare to school lunch.

In child nutrition there’s a dichotomy between obesity and hunger. In the New England city that Yale calls home, Tim Cipriano is combatting both sides of that food coin.

Tim Cipriano

Executive Director of Food Services,

New Haven Public Schools,

New Haven, Conn.

In child nutrition there’s a dichotomy between obesity and hunger. In the New England city that Yale calls home, Tim Cipriano is combatting both sides of that food coin.

Cipriano came to the district in the summer of 2008 to transition the department to self-op and remake the program into a healthy dining experience. He knew he couldn’t change the system overnight and alienate the students, 80% of whom qualify for free or reduced-priced meals, so he made little changes like switching all breads to whole grain. He then started making more “real food,” such as using fresh potatoes instead of canned to make mashed potatoes. Cipriano also eliminated chicken nuggets, a school lunch staple, instead opting for whole chickens to make roasted chicken breasts.

Living up to his moniker, the Local Food Dude, Cipriano has worked with the schools to plant gardens and to use that produce in the students’ meals. Cipriano was also instrumental in starting the Chefs Move to Schools program and sits on the steering committee for the CIA’s Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids conference.

“We are on the forefront of hunger,” Cipriano told FSD. “There are children in our schools who rely on New Haven School food as their only nutrition of the day and that saddens me.” Cipriano might be sad, but he’s fighting back.

“Tim is completely committed to making sure kids in America get the healthy food they need, not just enough food,” says Debbie Shore, co-founder of Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit working to end childhood hunger in America. “Tim has been a longtime and tireless supporter of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign on local and national levels. We have benefitted tremendously from his influence as a school nutrition innovator and community leader in New Haven and his willingness to always do more.” 


Foodservice Director has undertaken a bold initiative by identifying people who we believe are having the biggest impact on non-commercial foodservice. Our list may surprise you and should certainly intrigue you. Our honorees have backgrounds as varied as their personalities. They range from the father of the modern-day food truck to the wife of a sitting president. They include operators and suppliers, chefs and consultants, CEOs and civil servants. There are traditionalists and there are mavericks. Well-known names share space with hot newcomers. In all, 17 people, two groups of individuals and one institution compose the list. It’s time to meet FSD’s 20 Most Influential.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources