IT’S BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIME, AND THAT INCLUDES
ME TOO, AS I CONTINUE MY APPOINTMENT WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. FOR MOST KIDS,
THIS MEANS RISING EARLY, HOMEWORK AND YES, CAFETERIA DINING. SCHOOL LUNCHES WERE NEVER CONSIDERED FANCY
FARE, BUT THESE DAYS, WE’RE NOT ONLY TALKING ABOUT BETTER CHOICES IN SCHOOL LUNCHES, WE’RE
TALKING ABOUT FOOD JUSTICE AND SOCIAL EQUITY ISSUES. BUT NO MATTER HOW YOU LOOK AT IT,
ONE THING IS CLEAR – IF WE WANT TO RAISE HEALTHY PEOPLE, HELPING SHAPE THE WAY MEMBERS OF FUTURE
GENERATIONS EAT IS PARAMOUNT. AT ROOSEVELT MIDDLE SCHOOL IN SAN FRANCISCO,
THERE’S A PILOT PROGRAM WHOSE AIM IS TO FIGURE OUT WAYS TO MAKE SCHOOL FOOD AN ENJOYABLE
EXPERIENCE FOR ALL STUDENTS, CITY-WIDE. ZETTA REICKER , WHO DIRECTS THE SAN FRANCISCO UNIFIED
SCHOOL DISTRICT’S STUDENT NUTRITION SERVICES, WALKED ME THROUGH A BIT OF THE BACKGROUND
BEHIND THEIR NEW PROJECT CALLED THE FUTURE DINING EXPERIENCE. HISTORICALLY WE HAD KIND OF A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL
FOR OUR MEAL PROGRAM AND SO WE’D BEEN MAKING CHANGES OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS. WE ELIMINATED
A LA CARTE AND COMPETITIVE FOODS, SO ALL STUDENTS HAVE ACCESS TO ALL MEALS. SO BEFORE THAT IF YOU PAID, YOU GOT BETTER
FOOD THAN IF YOU GOT A FREE LUNCH? I WOULDN’T SAY BETTER FOOD, BUT DIFFERENT. YOU HAD MORE
CHOICE IF YOU HAD CASH AND THAT’S NOT REALLY IN LINE WITH OUR GOALS AROUND SOCIAL EQUITY. BUT IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT PROVIDING KIDS TASTIER,
NUTRITIOUS FOOD, IT’S ABOUT THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE, LIKE THE ACTUALLY COMFORTABLE LOUNGE WE WE’RE
SITTING IN. STUDENTS, THEY WANT TO HAVE THEIR SENSES STIMULATED.
THEY DON’T WANT TO HAVE THE FOOD THROWN AT THEM. YEAH, THEY WANT TO FEEL CONNECTED TO
FOOD. SO THE DINING SPACE REDESIGN FOUND THAT STUDENTS WANTED TO HAVE A SPACE TO DO ACTIVITIES
HAVING A DINING SPACE THAT WAS, YOU KNOW JUST INSTITUTIONAL ALL THE SAME TABLES, WASN’T
FITTING THEIR NEEDS. WE ARE ALSO IMPLEMENTING WHAT WE CALL “DISTRIBUTED
DELICIOUSNESS”, CHOICE THROUGH DISTRIBUTED POINTS OF SERVICE AND A DIFFERENT VARIETY
OF MEALS. SAY A GRAB AND GO CART, MAYBE A SANDWICH OR A WRAP, THINGS THAT CAN BE EATEN
ON THE GO. WE ARE DEVELOPING WHAT WE CALL A SMART MEAL APP, WHERE STUDENTS CAN PROVIDE
INPUT. BUT WE DEFINITELY WANT THEM TO BE ABLE TO RATE THE FOOD, GIVE FEEDBACK. SPEAKING OF FEEDBACK, ZETTA HAD ME SAMPLE
OF SOME OF THEIR MENU ITEMS. I’M JUST A FAN OF FREE LUNCH. (LAUGHTER). YES, ESPECIALLY
WHEN IT’S A DELICIOUS FREE LUNCH. SO THIS IS THE CHICKEN PIZZA PARTY SALAD. LETTUCE,
GRATED CHEESE, CHICKEN AND TOMATO SAUCE. AND ANTIBIOTIC FREE CHICKEN. GOOD FOR YOU. (EATING)
AND YOUR SOURCING HAS BEEN OK? TALKING AND EATING AT THE SAME TIME ISN’T EASY FOR ME.
I KNOW IT HAS BEEN A LITTLE CHALLENGING THIS YEAR, BUT WE’RE STILL ABLE TO DO IT AND KEEP
IT WITHIN THE CONTRACTING PRICE. IT’S REALLY GREAT, CONGRATULATIONS. YES, WE’RE VERY PROUD. THIS ALL LOOKS AND SOUNDS GREAT; AND THE FOOD
WASN’T BAD, EITHER – BUT CAN IT REALLY WORK? THAT’S WHERE KRIS MADSEN COMES IN. DR. MADSEN
OF THE UC BERKELEY-UCSF JOINT MEDICAL PROGRAM IS LEADING A STUDY TO EVALUATE THE PROJECT. SO WE COME IN AND WE OVERLAY A SCIENTIFIC
EVALUATION THAT WILL HOLD WATER WITH OTHER SCHOOLS, OTHER DISTRICTS, BOTH LOCALLY ACROSS
THE STATE AND EVEN ACROSS THE NATION AND WE LOOK TO SEE, WELL WHAT REALLY HAPPENS? DO
KIDS CHANGE THEIR DIETARY HABITS? DO THEY ACTUALLY EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES? DOES
THEIR DIET IMPROVE? CAN WE DECREASE PLATE WASTE IN THE SCHOOLS? SO HOW CAN WE GET KIDS
TO FEEL LIKE THIS IS MY CHOICE, THIS IS WHAT I WANT AND THEREFORE, I’M EATING IT AND I’M
EATING ALL OF IT? A BIG QUESTION, TOO, IS CAN THIS REALLY BE
USED TO GET THE SCHOOL TO IMPROVE STUFF, PER THE KID’S DESIRES? RIGHT. WHAT REALLY DRIVES
THEIR BEHAVIOR? CONVENIENCE IS HUGE. SO HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A HIGH SCHOOL DURING LUNCH?
NOT FOR MANY YEARS, RIGHT? (LAUGHTER). THE LINES ARE OUT THE DOOR, SO KIDS CAN’T EVEN
GET THEIR MEAL BEFORE THE BELL RINGS TO GO TO THE NEXT CLASS. SO, WHAT IF YOU COULD GET YOUR FOOD IN A HALLWAY?
A MOBILE CART THAT SOLD HOT FOOD AND YOU COULD PICK IT UP AND THEN EAT WITH YOUR FRIENDS
OUT IN THE QUAD? HOW DO YOU MAKE THE EASY CHOICE, THE HEALTHY CHOICE? OK, SO WHEN IS THIS STARTING? THE SCHOOL THAT
WE’RE IN TODAY, ROOSEVELT, IS ONE OF THE PILOT SCHOOLS. WE’LL TWEAK IT BASED ON WHAT KIDS
SAY AND THEN NEXT YEAR IS WHEN IT GETS ROLLED OUT INTO TWELVE SCHOOLS AND WE’LL CONTINUE
TO MONITOR BECAUSE WE WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE REAL WORLD. I’M INTERESTED IN THE REAL
WORLD, TOO, SO I JOINED TWO STUDENTS FOR A MEAL FROM A MOBILE CART TO SEE WHAT THEY THOUGHT.
I REALLY LIKE THE FOOD A LOT. THEY JUST PICKED YOU BECAUSE YOU WERE GOING TO SAY THAT. (LAUGHTER)
NO, ACTUALLY IT’S REALLY GOOD. YEAH, THIS IS FOOD I WOULD MAKE AT HOME. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE HOW THIS TURNS
OUT AND IF IT’S SOCIALLY AND FINANCIALLY SUSTAINABLE BECAUSE, REALLY, ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE
TO IMPROVE KIDS’ NUTRITION AND INCREASE THEIR AWARENESS OF OUR FOOD SYSTEM SHOULD SCORE
HIGH MARKS.