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Ed Bruske's Posts

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USDA removes major barrier to Michelle Obama's salad-bar initiative

Salad bar in use in a Boulder public school, where Ann Cooper has led a massive lunch overhaul.Photo: Ed BruskeFirst Lady Michelle Obama announced last week that a new public-private partnership, Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, would make it possible for as many as 6,000 salad bars to be installed in U.S. school cafeterias at an estimated cost of $15 million. Contrary to what hundreds of irate commenters directed to Grist from a link by the Drudge Report feared, the salad bars will not be mandatory lunchtime eating for the nation's youngsters, not taxpayer-funded. If parents like Sarah Palin …

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Congress passes the school lunch bill, but there's less to it than meets the eye

On Thursday afternoon, the House approved the "Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act," also known as the child nutrition reauthorization (CNR) bill. Having already cleared the Senate, the bill is ready for approval by President Obama, who has long supported it (along with Michelle Obama, who's made kids' health her policy focus). This broad piece of legislation, which Congress has to reauthorize every five years, controls funding for all child nutrition and women, infant, and children (WIC) programs, including school lunches.  The reauthorization had been dogged by delays. The Senate passed it by unanimous consent in August. In the House, the bill …

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Boulder rallies around improving its schools' food

If you sample it, they will bite: Tasting a new pasta dish at a Boulder cafeteria.Photos: Ed Bruske "Dear Parents of the Boulder Valley School District," the appeal begins. "Things are going well, but we need your help. We need at least 30 more kids in each school to start eating lunch so we can sustain our program." So reads a recent letter from chef-turned-school-food-activist Ann Cooper, who's trying to close a $360,000 budget gap in her makeover of school meals in Boulder, Colo. She's upended the menu, replacing cheesy pretzels and Eskimo pies with chicken pot pie and pasta …

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Serving breakfast in Boulder's classrooms

Intrepid school-lunch reporter and parent-turned-school-food-activist Ed Bruske has hit the road again, this time traveling to Boulder, Colo. Check out Ed's previous reporting on Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, Calif. public schools' food at the Cafeteria Confidential: Behind the Scenes in School Kitchens series homepage. Margaret Trevarton, packing breakfast.Photo: Ed BruskeI arrived at Boulder's Columbine Elementary School at 7 a.m. sharp. Margaret Trevarton, the school's "kitchen satellite lead" -- formerly known as "kitchen manager" -- was already packing breakfast for the schools' 408 students. Columbine is one of five schools in Boulder where breakfast is universally free and served in the …

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Boulder’s cafeterias embrace the salad-bar challenge

A filled trayPhotos: Ed Bruske Every day, U.S. schoolchildren throw tons of vegetables in the trash. The USDA requires that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program offer a certain quantity of vegetables each week. But most schools serve processed foods that arrive frozen and get reheated. Vegetables typically land on students' cafeteria trays overcooked and unpalatable. Who can blame them for turning up their noses? School-food reformer Ann Cooper puts her vegetable money in salad bars, where the lettuce is always crisp and the vegetables only lightly blanched or roasted, if cooked at all. Before Cooper arrived in …

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D.C. mayor axes healthier school food

When times get tough, the first thing to go, apparently, is better school food. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, attempting to close a $188 million gap in the city's budget, has proposed eliminating funds that had been designated for better school meals as part of a "Healthy Schools" initiative approved earlier this year, which I reported on here. The budget measure would halt payment of some $4.6 million that was to pay an extra 10 cents for every breakfast served in D.C. public schools, an extra 10 cents for every lunch, and 5 cents for every lunch meal that contained a …

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Dragging Boulder school food into the computer age

The school food computer system.Photo: Ed BruskeWhen she arrived in May 2008 to investigate food service in Boulder schools, Beth Collins found that the cooks had to send paper purchase orders to the school system's central warehouse to get the ingredients they needed to cook meals. The nutrition services department and the warehouse had computer systems, but they didn't talk to each other. A nutritionist who wrote menus for the schools entered them by hand on an Excel spreadsheet. For Collins, who eventually would be tasked with turning Boulder's neglected food-service infrastructure into a smooth-running machine, what she first saw …

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Boulder school food isn't quite cooked from scratch — yet

Intrepid school-lunch reporter and parent-turned-school-food-activist Ed Bruske has hit the road again, this time traveling to Boulder, Colo. Check out Ed's previous reporting on Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, Calif. public schools' food at the Cafeteria Confidential: Behind the Scenes in School Kitchens series homepage. Creative commodity marketing: Bags of frozen diced chicken become a barbecue chicken sandwich.Photos: Ed Bruske Ann Cooper warned me that I might see some unusual things in the school kitchens on my visit to Boulder. I did.  One morning at Casey Middle School, five-pound bags of what looked like frozen cookie dough lay on a stainless-steel work …

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White House to put 6,000 salad bars in schools

Nov. 22 update: First Lady Michelle Obama indeed announced today that a new public-private partnership, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, would make it possible for at least 6,000 salad bars to be installed in U.S. school cafeterias. Riverside Elementary School in Miami, where the announcement was made, received the program's first salad bar. We'll have more on the new program's funding and application process next week. First Lady Michelle Obama and Sam Kass, Assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator, help kids in the White House kitchen garden harvest vegetables daydreaming of a salad bar.Photo: Samantha Appleton First …

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Boulder's cafeterias are attracting a new kind of 'lunch ladies'

CIA grads on a mission: Ali Metzger and Margaret Hancock really wanted to make a difference in kids' lives.  Photos: Ed Bruske Intrepid school-lunch reporter and parent-turned-school-food-activist Ed Bruske has hit the road again, this time traveling to Boulder, Colo. Check out Ed's previous reporting on Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, Calif. public schools' food at the Cafeteria Confidential: Behind the Scenes in School Kitchens series homepage. I was happily stuffing cheese quesadillas at Boulder's Monarch High School one morning when a perky young woman in a crisp white shirt, black apron, and spiffy billed cap extended a paper container filled with …

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