Are any natural products used? If so, approximately what percentage of total foods served are natural and/or organic?
Chef Bobo answers: "At Calhoun, our story is fairly straightforward and incredible only insofar as the success of its outcome. Three parents got together in 1999 over lunch, happy that they would no longer have to pack lunch every day but worried about the fact that their kids would be beholden to the school's institutional lunch program in the coming year. Concerns they voiced ranged from the quality of the ingredients to the atmosphere within which lunch was served.
"There was, per se, nothing unusually wrong with the lunch program... at least at the time. It was provided by a standard food service company that serviced many of New York City's private schools. There were choices every day, including a hot lunch. But after analysis, it was determined that much was overly processed, out of a can, loaded with corn syrup, and laden with numerous multi-syllable preservatives. "After some period of discussion, the parents concluded that it would be irresponsible to put the issue to the side. They embarked on a journey of observation, analysis, and recommendations that led to a completely new way of looking at lunch. They involved faculty, students and administration at this juncture, to ensure widespread advocacy and participation within the school community. While many, particularly administration, were reticent to focus time and energy toward a non-academic effort, the passion and commitment of the initial parent group provided the necessary fuel to feed the fire. In fact, as was true at Calhoun, broad and passionate advocacy is a prerequisite to success. Change is difficult and challenging on all levels and it is unlikely to occur without an appropriate base of unwavering commitment of the cause.
"Once the expanded team's observation on the current state of affairs was complete, they were quickly aligned on actions that should be taken to remedy what was clearly a challenging situation. The first stop, observations of and discussions with the current food service company, quickly demonstrated an inability to fulfill the requested changes toward a healthier program. At that point, with internal alignment in place, drastically different tactics were required. The broad-based involvement did not end at that point. Throughout the process of change, parents, teachers, students and administration were engaged and encouraged to participate on a daily basis (serving lunch, eating lunch, etc.) in the evolution toward healthier eating for all members of the school community."