Busting out of the silo

Two Minnesota districts are working together for the betterment of their students.

“I’m being asked to do more with less.” It’s a woe I hear all the time—and not just from foodservice directors. It seems that since the economic crash in 2008, companies have tightened their purse strings and are asking employees to take on additional responsibilities, often without increased resources to help out.

In non-commercial foodservice, child nutrition professionals might be in the toughest situation. With all the new rules, regulations and changes from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the added responsibilities of FSDs in schools is quite daunting.

But two Minnesota district are finding ways to help each other out.

This past month I spoke with Bertrand Weber, director of culinary and nutrition services for the Minneapolis School District, and Monica McNaughton, R.D., assistant director of nutrition services for Saint Paul Public Schools. The two districts are working together to create menus, leverage their buying power to purchase better-for-you options and develop programs to educate students. One example is a new program to launch this fall called Minnesota Thursdays, where both districts will serve the same menu. That menu will be created from locally sourced foods.

It’s not always easy to ask for help—it’s something I struggle with—but at a time when everyone is doing more with less, why not reach out to your neighboring foodservice program and work together on projects?

I’m sure Minneapolis and Saint Paul aren’t alone in this endeavor. I’d love to hear about other operators who are working together to create programs or menus. The spirit of collaboration in non-commercial foodservice is great—that’s why we created a column called Steal This Idea. So shoot me an email and share your collaboration story. You can reach me at [email protected].