True Food Council teams area chefs with Minneapolis Public Schools

Not exactly nutritionally sound: Minneapolis school lunches are getting a makeover
Not exactly nutritionally sound: Minneapolis school lunches are getting a makeover

Who hasn't found themselves inside the lunchroom of their school cracking jokes at the expense of a rectangular shaped piece of pizza or a wobbly tray of mystery "meat"? It's an easy target from an eater's perspective, but solving the dilemma of creating delicious and healthful food for students is no easy task. This week the True Food Council was announced, a partnership between Minneapolis Public Schools' Culinary and Nutrition Services and notable area chefs.

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Many of the participating chefs are known for their work with sustainable agriculture and locally sourced food. Several are also parents, who recognize on a daily basis the challenge of getting wholesome food into the mouths of babes.

It's not as simple as setting out a salad bar in every school, although that is something they're working on. Due to government restrictions on sodium, preservatives, and how food can be sourced for schools, the creation of a nutritionally dense, healthful meal that kids will actually eat is a special kind of tightrope walk.

The True Food Council joins a nationwide movement to address public school's nutrition, a movement that includes the likes of Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard, the "Renegade Lunch Lady" Ann Cooper, Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution, and Bertrand Weber, a local activist and Director of Culinary and Nutrition Services for Minneapolis Public Schools.

Bringing good food to local schools
Bringing good food to local schools

Local chefs on the council include Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma and Brasa, Brianna Baldus and Beth Fisher of Wise Acre Eatery, Joe and Holly Hatch-Surisook of Sen Yai Sen Lek, John Kraus of Patisserie 46, Jorge Guzman of Solera, Landon Schoenfeld of Haute Dish, Lori Valenziano of Lucia's, Michelle Gayer of Salty Tart, Molly Hermann of Kitchen in the Market and Tastebud Catering, and others.

Hermann in particular has garnered a following on Twitter and her Instagram feed (@tastebudtart) for the creative, healthy, and lovely lunches she crafts for her son.

"My son has food allergies, and so he has always taken his lunch to school. I'm happy to have him start eating lunches at school! He may not choose to do so everyday, but it's important to have balance and choices," Hermann says. "I actually ate school lunch with him last week. It's quite a bit different than when I was in school, but the changes that are being instituted across the Minneapolis Public Schools are going to make our kids stronger, healthier and happier. It will take time and money to help get a salad bar in every school, for instance, but what a worthwhile goal!"

The next step in the program will involve chefs adopting schools, developing recipes, having taste tests with the kids, as well as a fundraiser to help put all of these ideas into motion.

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