Memphis FSD shares goal to rid schools of processed foods

Tony Geraci shares his thoughts on the state of child nutrition.

July 25—In the new documentary “Cafeteria Man,” Baltimore public schools food service manager Tony Geraci explains to a group of cafeteria workers that he spends most of his time “being a bureaucrat in an office.” But the film also shows Geraci working alongside students in a new 33-acre urban farm, accompanying a group of kids to testify before a congressional committee, and giving elementary pupils their first taste of a melon they helped plant and grow. “Cafeteria Man” documents changes in Baltimore schools during Geraci’s 2008-11 tenure, which began with building a central kitchen to replace pre-plated, processed meals with freshly prepared food made with locally grown ingredients.

In the 83,000-student urban school district, says Geraci, “this has never been done, but it makes sense.” Many elements of the Baltimore program — school gardens, student-designed meals, and nutrition education in classrooms — have become a model for other districts. Geraci now directs nutrition services for the public schools in Memphis, and was in Boston last week for the annual meeting of the School Nutrition Association. “Cafeteria Man” will air on public television stations beginning in late summer.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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