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Catering to Tots

By Melanie Silverman

 

Last month, the Los Angeles Times reported that chef Jamie Oliver wanted to take his “Food Revolution” show to the Los Angeles School District. They turned him down. The superintendent’s spokeswoman, Melissa Infusino, said, “Our feeling was that his time would be better spent or invested in other communities.”

 

Maybe Ms. Infusino is not a reality television fan. After all, cameras are big, bulky and personally invasive and her students run the risk of bumping into them. I guess she could assemble an argument against the show, but Jamie has a moral agenda igniting much needed change across this country for the sake of our children.  Does she realize the show’s value? She may not; but others do.

 

A few months ago a lovely woman named Lisa Sutton contacted me.  Lisa is the owner of Cater Tots Too (www.catertots.com) in Santa Ana. This is a catering business that provides breakfast, lunch and snack programs to 2500 children in preschools, private schools, USDA programs, Head Start, and summer camps throughout Orange County and parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Sensing a true food revolution occurring, she was looking for a pediatric dietitian to improve the nutritional quality of the Cater Tots menus for “my kids” as she affectionately refers to them.  Five minutes into our conversation, I knew I was taking this job.

 

While Lisa does not personally know all of the kids she feeds, the most compelling aspect about working with her is the motherly responsibility she feels in feeding each one of these children. She knows that good nutrition makes a difference in their mental, emotional and physical development.

 

Lisa and I work well together because we both care for the children and know change takes time, especially in foodservice operations where money and labor are real issues. Lisa is making strategic changes in stages based on a priority list we developed together. A few short weeks after I signed on, she had already revamped her menus. Her food revolution has begun.

 

Unfortunately, Jamie Oliver is not likely to travel to Orange County to help Cater Tots.  This is why Lisa has taken matters into her own hands.  I hope other food service operators around our country follow Lisa’s lead.

 

 

Melanie R. Silverman is pediatric dietitian and lactation consultant in Laguna Beach, California.  www.feedingphilosophies.com.  Visit her at www.feedingphilosophies.com or call 949-271-9125

 

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