SBUSD Food Services Director Nancy Weiss with one of her department's three mobile cafes.

SBUSD Food Services Director Nancy Weiss with one of her department’s three mobile cafes.

Attendees at the September 12 Orfalea Foundation program, The Future of Hunger: An Evening with Jan Poppendieck, will have a special opportunity to experience the new face – and taste – of school food in Santa Barbara.

Since 2009, the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s innovative Food Services Director Nancy Weiss and her staff have been taking their show on the road – using food trucks for both school meals and catering projects. The SBUSD Mobile Cafes have been a huge success with students, teachers, administrators, and catering customers.

 

The rolling kitchens allow Weiss and her team to provide "scratch-cooked, locally sourced, organic and healthy school breakfast and lunch" to more students in more locations.

The rolling kitchens allow Weiss and her team to provide “scratch-cooked, locally sourced, organic and healthy school breakfast and lunch” to more students in more locations.

According to Weiss, the mobile cafes allowed her to capitalize on the food truck trend to create alternate points of access that keep more high school kids on campus with something new and delicious. “Participation rates are up 20% and keep growing.”

Weiss and her team also offer a full service catering division, utilizing established staff and featuring more sophisticated menus to serve district employees as well as the private sector. Clients have included the Kardashian family, the Vassar Club, and the Sansum Diabetes Foundation.

Weiss explains how the catering service supports school meals, and vice-versa:  “All revenue is kept within our Food Service department and enables us to enhance the quality of food purchased and served in our school cafeterias.  Marketing our school food on the outside elevates the consciousness of the public in regard to the high quality food standards we adhere to, as well as solidifying the partnership between our school district and the community through local events, such as Earth Day.”

The Mobile Cafes also introduce the community to the new face of school food, but what does “the new face of school food” mean? According to Weiss, “It means scratch-cooked, locally sourced, organic and healthy school breakfast and lunch, served on compostable or recyclable materials, NO SPORKS (I have a personal aversion to this unrealistic, 1/2 fork/spoon utensil!), and NO Styrofoam anywhere!”

She notes that “The ‘new face’ can also be seen on the faces of our food service staff, who wear chef coats and are able to talk the talk and walk the walk as they usher their students through lunch lines, serving up and discussing the benefits of whole foods!”

Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Mobile Cafes have been embraced by students, faculty, administrators, and food service workers, and Weiss recommends them to other districts. “These vehicles are a ‘vehicle’ to a fresh, new source of secondary meal service, and with them comes a sense of campus ownership that has sparked pride and participation which further supports our district’s food service department while supporting the health of our students, teachers, and staff.

Check out the Mobile Cafes and the New Face of School Food:

  • September 12: The Future of Hunger: An Evening with Jan Poppendieck
  • 7:00 PM, Marjorie Luke Theater, $5 online, $10 at the door
  • Mobile Cafes at 5:15 PM
  • Ticket info at www.FoodSovWeek.com
  • Ticket proceeds support Foodbank of SBC and the Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative

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