Thursday, February 24, 2011

Food in the Schools: IACP Regional Conference

Last Friday and Saturday (February 18 and 19) The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Regional Conference was held in New York City. The conference brought together food industry professionals from a variety of backgrounds. This year the conference focused on four topics of interest:

1. communication in an electronic and digital age
2. the foods of New York
3. school food
4. farm to table: urban and rural foodways

The conference started with opening remarks from White House chef Sam Kass about the First Lady’s Chefs Move to Schools initiative. Phil Gutehsohn (student affairs, FCI) organized the panels for the school food track. The FCI hosted the discussions.

On Saturday morning, Gabriella Petrick from NYU's food studies program, moderated the Farm to School discussion with panelists Ben Flanner (Brooklyn Grange), Beth Feehan (NJ Farm to School Network), Stacey Murphy (BK Farmyards), and Steve Ritz (NYC Public Schools). The panelists discussed educational programming currently at work in schools as well as the different strategies and environments being used to connect kids to the food they eat.

From left: Gabriella Petrick, Steve Ritz, Beth Feehan, Stacey Murphy, and Ben Flanner

Fabio Parasecoli from the New School's food studies program moderated the next panel: Chefs Who've Moved to Schools. Here, attendees were able to listen to advocates and frontlines-men, who are already working hard to make a difference, recite the realities of what they have confronted in engendering change. Bill Telepan and Nancy Easton (Wellness in the Schools), Marion Rosenfeld (The Cooking Room), Chef Bobo (The Calhoun School), and John Turenne (Sustainable Food Systems)were the panelists and candidly discussed the challenges they have faced in working to improve food in schools—what is working and what needs to be rethought and retooled.

From left: Bill Telepan, Nancy Easton, Chef Bobo, John Turenne, Marion Rosenfield, and Fabio Parasecoli

The day finished with School Lunch Size Me moderated by Jack Murnighan of Panelists concentrated on giving suggestions on how to bring awareness of the state of food in the schools and its effect on children to a wider audience than culinary professionals, as well as the various media options that can help this effort. Panelists included Amy Kalafa and Alex Gunuey (Two Angry Moms), Avis Richards (Birds Nest Productions), Beatriz Beckford (Brooklyn Food Coalition), and Ed Bruske (Parents for Better D.C. School Food).

There is a lot of work to be done, but it is something The FCI community feels strongly about. The school community was excited to have the opportunity to participate and host this important event. Through The Future Cooks Initiative, under the direction of Phil Gutensohn, the school plans to continue to bring together the minds and efforts of the top innovators and change makers on this important issue. Add Future Cooks Initiative's new blog, The Lunch Box, to your RSS feeder to stay abreast of what's going on.

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