Get Inspired by Cafeteria Man

26 Sep

No doubt, many of us will remember the lunches of our school years.  Soy “hockey puck” burgers and gummy pizzas spring to mind for me.  I certainly would have appreciated fresh, whole peaches greeting me the first day of school.  Replacing the syrup-drenched canned peaches was just one of the changes Chef Tony Geraci’s, food service director for Baltimore schools systems, implemented as he reformed the school menu.  Chef Ceraci’s reform efforts are the topic of Cafeteria Man, an award-winning documentary by Richard Chisolm. Over the two years that the film covered, Chef Geraci implemented a 33-acre teaching garden, Meatless Mondays, nutrition education programs and pushed for a central kitchen to provide fresh, local foods to 83,000 students within the city’s school system.

It is an inspiring story full of energy and Chef Geraci is the necessary force to drive change but what comes through in the film is the involvement of the community. It took a team effort to reach these ambitious goals!  The spotlight is definitely on the kids, including the small group who walked into a School Board meeting and fed the members one of their lunches.  They appear to be the initial catalyst for change.  Their input shapes the menu and their voices are heard as far as Washington D.C as the dynamic director pushes for the resources he needs to get rid of the mystery meat!

School lunch reform is a hot topic so the screening would not be complete without a panel discussion with a few local movers and shakers of the school lunch scene.  Brandi Cartwright (Raintree Learning Community), Jill Duncan (Bon Appetit at Washington University) and Robert Rusan (Maplewood Richmond Heights School District) spent a few minutes talking about their efforts to make local, sustainable, healthy foods available.

Slow Food Saint Louis holds screenings once a month at Schlafly Bottleworks for a suggested donation of $5. The next film in the Slow Food Film series is WASTE LAND, an awarding winning film by Lucy Walker. Though it isn’t a foodie film, turning trash into art is an idea with which sustainable-minded folks can get on board.  For more details, visit the Slow Food St. Louis website.

Jessica Moeller-Gaa is a DPD student in the Nutrition & Dietetics program. She prefers food on her plate but in films is OK too.


2 Responses to “Get Inspired by Cafeteria Man”

  1. Gretchen September 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    I can totally relate. in my growing up, from the 6 grade schools i went to, they all had below average selection for healthy options. This is such an important issue how to feed healthy food in a cafeteria, it’s great that awareness is being brought to the public!

  2. Dana Woldow September 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Another POV on this film
    Cafeteria Man Tony Geraci: hype or hope?

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