“I feel inspired and inspiring” Marta wrote in an email post-teaching one of the first two Discover.Cook. Nourish. workshops for school food service workers (part of the national CPPW grant). Eight workshops down and a few dozen more to go, we’re getting a big thumbs up from the participants.
The school food service workers in attendance fill out evaluations after the 8-hour day rating various criteria on a 1 (low) to 5 (highest) scale. There are 10 topics to score such as effectiveness of power points, thoroughness of presentation, relevance to self and work, teacher’s ability to answer questions and so on for a maximum of 50 points. “Session overall” and “would you recommend this workshop to others” is currently getting averaging 4.8 out of 5. The overall average, combining scores for all 10 topics is 46.8 out of 50. Everyone working on this project is jazzed about the kudos we’re receiving.
What aspect do participants like best? Hands down, the most frequent praise on the evaluations is for the hands-on cooking sections of the workshop. Auburn and King County food service workers simmer quinoa, spice up black beans, take chicken for a swim in yogurt, curry up chickpeas, get down with braised greens and slice and dice fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to adorn each dish. Their “Build a Bowl” lunches evoke yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy.
The workshops represent steps toward bettering the cash-strapped school lunch program. How to implement what participants are learning will more time, more push. Luckily the second favorite aspect of the workshops, as reported by participants on the evaluations, is “sharing ideas”. The day ends with a game called “Cauldron of Insight” which stimulates this type of conversation. Groundbreaking ideas are being offered by Alice Waters, Ann Cooper and Jamie Oliver but the way to change may also emerge from the hearts and minds of the people who work in the school lunch program Monday through Friday. I can’t wait to see what bubbles up.
Answers to the evaluation question: Which part of the training did you find most useful?
- Learning to cook with ingredients I’ve never used.
- Loved being able to try food that I wanted to try but did not know how to prepare.
- All because it will be helpful in my job and my personal life
- I enjoyed every part of the training class. I can’t wait to implement certain ideas at school and in my home.
I spoke with someone in the local media this week about the “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” (CPPW) grant workshops: Discover. Cook. Nourish. that I am proud to be working on. The reporter asked about the focus of the workshops and I explained that we were attempting to affect the beliefs of the individual school food service worker as a first step. The workshop materials clearly outlines the need for changing how we eat and then offers ample lessons and resources on “how to”. We cover popular food terminology, whole grain and bean cookery, how to balance meals, how to shop for the best quality and give hands –on cooking lessons using dozens of recipes. By getting these individuals jazzed about better health via good food, they may develop a passion for feeding themselves and their family better.
The reporter, playing devil’s advocate, wondered how these workshops were going to help. If grant money is awarded to teach school food service workers about serving better food, parents want to see better food on their child’s lunch tray. PDQ! Why waste precious grant money on changing the school food service worker’s dinner plate?
I stood my ground. Because post workshop, if a food service manager wants to bring in more food from local vendors, the workers who took the workshops will be in the “heck yea” camp. Sign up the their school for the farm-to-school program? The answer is more likely to be YES and how can I help. If serving more whole grains in the menu rotation becomes part of the “more fiber” rule from the government, these foods won’t be unfamiliar. In fact, the folks who have taken the workshop will know how to make a variety of whole grains taste fantastic. Maybe they’ll be psyched enough to host an information session for the parents at their school? Or a cooking class?
Starting with the individual is exactly where change begins. Each parent, each child, each school food service worker has to desire similar changes if school lunch food is going to improve. I threw the question back to her. If we don’t shift the consciousness of the school food service worker, then who would you start with? Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution is emotionally charged, confrontational and nationally televised. His sweeping school lunch makeover is one approach, lobbying for better school lunch policies in D.C. is another. Two Angry Moms made a movie to raise consciousness and evoke change. I feel that the problem has to be confronted from every point of entry. Dr. Susan Rubin of Better School Food has a “to do” list for parents and school food service directors to follow. What’s your take on the issue. Where does changing the way we feed children begin for you?
Cookus Interruptus is part of the recently approved King County “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” grant tasked with developing a whole foods certificate program for school nutrition staff in King County (and hopefully statewide).
The work starts this fall; workshops for school staff will begin in 2011. Cookus Interruptus will be doing curriculum development; planning workshop activities (including hands-on cooking!), creating learning materials and training workshop teachers. We are very proud to be a part of implementing this program. You’ll be hearing us brag about it more in the future. Here’s to better school lunches for our children!!!