Five Questions for: Pamela Gallagher

FoodService Director - Five Questions for: Pamela GallagherGetting student buy-in for new products is important for child nutrition programs. At 18,500-student Allentown School District in Pennsylvania, the child nutrition department has teamed up with an after-school cooking club to conduct taste testings. Pamela Gallagher, director of child nutrition services, talks to FSD about the process and relationship between the two organizations.

How did you get involved with the food club at Trexler Middle School?

The consumer sciences teacher started an after-school club. The middle school kids go through a rotation in the consumer science class and some of the class is about economics in the home, cooking and other things. The cooking rotation of this class is only for a few weeks. What the teachers noticed was that the kids really liked the class when it was in the cooking rotation, so she started an after-school club for cooking. It grew from there because the teacher contacted child nutrition for a career day. She invited us to be a part of her career day and then it evolved to using the kids in this class to be taste testers for new products. This class now does taste testing for new products. They are important to us because when we have new products from a vendor or manufacturer, we test with the kids first before we put it on the menu.

How do you work with the food club do to taste testing of new products?

We normally do the taste testing three or four times a year. The kids come to our kitchen for the testing. It’s very formal. The vendor normally comes and talks to the students about the products. There are forms to fill out that ask about things like texture, taste and how the product looks.

Before the food club, we would do student tasting at a school during lunch and do random tasting but not anything really official.

Besides taste testing, what else do you do with the food club?

We take them on a trip once a year. We usually take them to a vendor. For example, we took them to Giorgio’s Farm in the Reading (Pa.) area. They do mushroom growing and they have a processing plant so the kids got to see the whole processing cycle. Giorgio also makes a pizza for us so we had a relationship from them on this pizza end.

What are some of the products that have been added to the menu after the food club’s approval?

Last year we put Uncle Ben’s Rice on the menu after the kids did taste testing. There was also a hot pocket type product that they liked.

Are you trying to expand the food club and child nutrition services partnership?

We are working with the principals at the other three middle schools to start food clubs. We always do taste testing of new products before they get put on the menu. Sometimes the students in this after-school class are not available so we’ll go to a school and test it with other kids. The students are our most important customers so it keeps us connected to them.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
wage feud business

As plans to increase the minimum wage surge ahead in states such as New York and California, operators eventually will feel the reverberations shake up labor costs for more than just hourly workers. As associate wages gain on manager salaries, operators will have to answer a call for reciprocal increases. FSD spoke with operators who advised going gently into the brave new world of heightened labor costs, investing in talent and making cuts elsewhere; however, they did offer three perfectly proactive tactics to make the process as seamless as possible.

1. Keep talking

Even though...

Menu Development
craft beer flight
A draw for happy hour...

San Francisco restaurateur Charles Phan plans to serve beer and wine, and depending on liquor licensing, perhaps cocktails as well. “For faculty and staff on campus, it will be a really wonderful place to come to and have a glass of wine,” Wolch says. “Right now, we have The Faculty Club bar, which is a very historic spot, but this is going to be much more contemporary.”

And for morning coffee...

Phan’s plan for made-to-order coffee is bound to be a boon for both faculty and students. “We’ll have a brand-new espresso machine,” Phan says. Wolch adds, “Most...

Managing Your Business
wurster west may 2016

At a nearly 150-year-old university, every stone column and classroom has treasured stories to tell. But with that history come the logistical challenges of operating in outdated spaces—especially for foodservice. Such is the case at University of California at Berkeley, where longtime cafe Ramona’s in Wurster Hall closed in March to make way for an updated, as-yet unnamed concept.

With little more than a steam table and coolers, Ramona’s was limited by its lack of ventilation. And, as a former classroom space, it never was intended to function for foodservice, says Jennifer Wolch...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken herbs

We make and broadcast short YouTube videos on TV monitors to educate our customers about cooking techniques, like how to cut up a chicken or what herbs and spices go well together. The monitors also are used to display daily menus, nutritional and allergen information, upcoming foodservice events and local weather forecasts.

FSD Resources