Timothy Cipriano: Taking the Lead

Cipriano reduced the number of entrée options to one to focus on a high-quality product, to save money by buying in bulk and to reduce waste. He is working to revamp high school service to include concepts like Asian, barbecue and subs to increase the number of offerings for high school students.

Even with one entrée item offered daily, Cipriano is introducing the students to new meals. “We did shepherd’s pie on St. Patrick’s Day and the kids didn’t like it,” Cipriano says. “They didn’t understand it. We’ll try it again. We want these kids to adapt to different tastes and different kinds of foods.”

Commodity products are another area Cipriano has focused on. Cipriano, who is known as the “local food dude,” is an advocate for using fresh, local produce whenever possible. Last year, he estimates that 12%, or 60,000 pounds, of produce served was from a local source. Cipriano also knows he has to take advantage of commodity products to keep costs down, so he is using those products in creative ways. One example is canned apricots, which were used to make a sweet and sour sauce.

Cipriano also has partnered with the Sound School, a New Haven high school that has an aquaculture and agriculture component. Using basil grown and harvested by students, Cipriano made a pesto chicken that was served at each of the 46 schools.

FoodService Director - FSD month - Timothy Cipriano - New Haven Schools

Other changes that focus on healthy dining include eliminating chocolate milk and serving cereals that have nine grams of sugar or less per serving.

Reaching out: Cipriano’s work doesn’t end when the students leave the cafeteria. “We are on the front lines of hunger,” Cipriano says. “There are children in our schools who rely on New Haven School Food as their only nutrition of the day and that saddens me.”

Because Cipriano is so passionate about feeding hungry children, he has become involved in many projects on the local and national level. In conjunction with Share Our Strength, a national organization that focuses on eliminating childhood hunger, Cipriano has helped organize Taste of the Nation New Haven, a fundraising event that raised $60,000 this year to help with anti-hunger campaigns in the city.

Operation Front Line is another Share Our Strength project Cipriano is involved with. Operation Front Line is a nutrition education program that teaches families how to prepare healthy meals on a limited budget. Cipriano is working to get these programs in his schools that serve low-income families.

Cipriano also was involved in developing Chefs Move to Schools, part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign (see Five Questions for: Timothy Cipriano at foodservicedirector.com). Cipriano hopes to implement the initiative in his district by bringing in New Haven chefs to do cooking demonstrations with the students.

Cipriano also is working on expanding the district’s school gardens. There are currently several school gardens, none of which is large enough to sustain the produce needs of the school where it is located. At Barnard Environmental Studies Interdistrict Magnet School, the students help plant and tend a school garden that supplies some produce for the cafeteria. The garden’s main purpose is as an educational tool for the students.

FoodService Director - FSD month - Timothy Cipriano - New Haven Schools

Cipriano hopes to create a larger district farm that would be used to as a teaching tool. “We’ll try coconuts and pineapples. We know they’re not going to grow, but it’s an educational experience to let the kids understand why they don’t grow in Connecticut,” Cipriano says.

For someone who never thought about school foodservice as a career, Cipriano takes every opportunity to extend his department’s reach. “I was a chef working at restaurants,” Cipriano says about his life before child nutrition. “Did I ever think I would be a bald ‘lunch lady?’ Never. But I love it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. All bets are off. Everything is on the table.”

“Every year since Tim has been here, we’ve increased the number of meals served each year and we have decreased our cost of food every year,” Clark says. “These two things would have been unimaginable in the program we had before. We’ve gone from corporate, processed food to the White House in two years. Tim has a dogged persistence in focusing on healthy food and getting everyone excited about what we can do in the cafeteria and how we can connect what we do in the cafeteria to the classroom.”

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
WinCup foam food containers

From WinCup.

Cost control.

Two little words that are essential to every foodservice director’s day-to-day activities.

Keeping costs in check is paramount in running a functioning food operation, of course. But the ripples of cost control can extend beyond your bottom line. And savvy directors must balance customer satisfaction on the P&L sheet.

Fiscal Responsibility

The foundation of cost control is accepting fiscal responsibility, which requires a solid understanding of foodservice accounting. Prime cost, the combined cost of food and labor, is an...

Industry News & Opinion

Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

Read the full story via The Times Herald-Record .

Industry News & Opinion

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

Read the...

Industry News & Opinion

Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

ThinkFoodGroup was this year named a Power 20 multiconcept operator by Restaurant...

FSD Resources