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culinary institute of america
The CIA program included both class learning and hands-on work in the kitchen.

School Directors Get “Back to Their Roots”

A group of school foodservice directors gathered recently at the CIA's San Antonio campus to learn about dealing with USDA’s new school regs.

Fourteen school foodservice professional from seven districts across the country are met recently at the CIA San Antonio campus for the inaugural “Getting Back to Your Roots Symposium.” Developed by Professor of Culinary Mark Ainsworth, PCIII, CEC, and sponsored by Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., the three-day program provided a forum for discussion, learning, menu and product ideation and culinary exploration, all within the context of the new school lunch and breakfast guidelines.

“Through my work with schools over the past 12 years, I’ve gained a clear understanding of the challenges school directors face in terms of funding, equipment, time and labor,” says Ainsworth.

A focus on child nutrition requires an understanding of why kids taste food differently than adults. Ainsworth’s interactive presentation on the physiology of kids’ taste kicked off a series of cooking demonstrations and discussions in the kitchen around proteins, grains and vegetable cookery.

There were also several working sessions in the CIA San Antonio Latin kitchen where the directors, working in teams, moved from recipe-based items to the development of new concept ideas for kid-friendly, protein-based breakfast entrées and protein-based lunch entrées that incorporate vegetables, grains and legumes, using only those foods and pieces of equipment that are readily available in their own kitchens.

“The goal is to create a culinary school experience in the kitchens, within a practicum of school cafeteria production,” Ainsworth says. “I fully anticipate that these individuals will produce some outstanding and realistic new product opportunities.”

Adam Brumberg, deputy director of The Cornell University Food & Brand Lab, presented the results of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program’s newest research, which found that preserving students’ abilities to make choices, with gentle guidance, resulted in healthy choices in the lunch line.

Attendees included representatives from Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Schools, Cobb County (GA) School District, Mesa (AZ) Public Schools, Miami-Dade (FL) County Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, Northside (TX) ISD and San Diego USD.

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