Will school lunchrooms be the next rock star venue for chefs?

More chefs are being hired in districts to help up the culinary ante of school food.

Dec. 16—Now that it is firmly established in our culture that cooking and being a chef are definitely hyper-cool, is there a chance that the long-unsung and often reviled school food service directors and their chefs have a chance at the kind of stardom that restaurant chefs have achieved? After all, they run the biggest restaurants in every city, sometimes serving the only meals in the day that some children receive.

Will the new, young, school food service directors become the rock stars of the 2020s, changing and leading the way we think about food? Why not? We’ve met some recently who have that effervescent star quality, that glitter in their eyes, that leads one to suspect they can accomplish just about anything they want to, and the main thing they want is to change the food that schoolchildren are offered and the way they are educated about it. How are the directors doing this? By increasing the freshness and flavors of the food they source and prepare.

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In an effort to reduce turnover, lunchroom supervisors at elementary schools in a Chicago-area district will see an increase in pay at the start of the new school year, the Chicago Tribune reports .

The board of education for Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 on Aug. 8 approved a proposal to increase wages for those supervisors, boosting starting pay from from $12 to $14 an hour. Returning employees who already earn above the new rate will see an hourly increase of 2%.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Joel Martin said he hopes the increased wages will allow...

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A study from Virginia Tech has found a connection between school meal participation and obesity in students. From data that predates the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act , the findings raise questions over whether nutrition standards go far enough.

The research evaluated data from 1998 to 2007, comparing first through eighth grade students who partook in free and reduced-price lunch and those who qualified but opted out. Wen You, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, says she expected to validate theories that increased breakfast...

Industry News & Opinion

Buffalo Public Schools is turning to local chefs and a little competition to help create new menu items, the Buffalo News reports .

In October, local chefs will compete against each other and a team of seven to 10 students led by chef Bobby Anderson, a former contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen,” to create lunch recipes that comply with USDA nutritional requirements and use seasonal produce sourced locally.

“This Chef Challenge is another way to engage our youth in a fun, friendly competition with local area chefs who can help create appealing recipes that will be incorporated...

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