Faces bakery, Wayzata High team up for better school lunches

Complaining about school lunches is a time-honored student tradition, but it's a lot harder for the students at Wayzata High this year. The school is teaming up with entrepreneur Kyle Hale and executive chef David Fhima of Faces to provide better-tasting and healthier options for school lunches. By offering items such as fresh pizza with unbleached flour to the students, Fhima's St. Paul restaurant and bakery can provide a significant upgrade to the standard student lunch. As Hale puts it, "Let's take popular products and make them more nutritious."

Mary Anderson, the Culinary Express supervisor who oversees the K-12 school meal program noted, "It's a great partnership. It provides an opportunity for students to experience artisanal bread and fresh pizza."

Hale and Fhima joined with Wayzata High School to launch the program in September 2010. Before launching the program, Hale and Fhima conducted focus groups with students and continue to elicit feedback periodically.

"The students we have worked with are respectful, smart, and willing to give us their perspective," Hale says. Another key part of the program is the participation of the employees at the service level. "I can make the decision to roll out this program," supervisor Anderson says, "but it's the food service staff that are executing it day-to-day. The staff has embraced it."

With the expanding ability of the consumer to create food reviews on websites such as YELP or, a standard restaurant has unlimited access to customer feedback at the click of a mouse (whether they like it or not). However, students are less likely to jump online to write reviews about an undesirable school lunch, thinking they don't have any choices. Hale hopes to give the students a voice through the use of social networking outlets. Using a Facebook page for example, would allow them to post their thoughts or desires for a new kind of pizza or ingredient. "This gives the students the unique ability to bend the chef's ear, Hale says. "Essentially they have a personal chef at their disposal." Faces is able to make changes to products overnight, according to student feedback or requests.

Faces is now delivering thousands of products to Wayzata High School each week, including whole-wheat hamburger buns, ciabatta bread, and fresh pizzas. Many other schools are showing interest in incorporating Faces products, but Hale is holding off, noting, "We could go into other schools right away, but we would rather take the success of the Wayzata School District, study it, perfect it, and then expand."

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