New Haven’s Public Schools educate and feed over 20,000 students each day. The task of creating healthy meals for such a large student body falls on Chef Tim Cipriano, Food Service Director for the city’s 45 schools. Chef Tim has introduced new polices that both ensure nutritious meals for his students and offer a positive example for districts nationwide.
In 2009 Chef Tim set to work developing healthier lunch options for New Haven’s elementary schools. He removed chips, soft drinks and sweets, replacing them with water and fresh produce from local farms, and introduced Meatless Monday at the start of the 2010 school year. New Haven Public Schools also helped students connect with the food on their trays by planting gardens at many locations and integrating lessons about food into the school curriculum.
After a successful year of Meatless Mondays at New Haven’s elementary schools, Chef Tim decided to bring the campaign to the city’s high schools in October. Meatless Mondays are a perfect example of how nutrition education can be integrated into school cafeterias; students are shown the health benefits of cutting back on meat, but also have access to meat options if they choose. In addition to Meatless Monday, Chef Tim also hopes to educate students (and the community) about a healthy diet by hiring a nutritionist for the district.
With over 16 years of culinary experience and connections to Farm to School and the School Nutrition Association, Chef Tim has the know-how New Haven needs to develop healthful, affordable school lunches. When asked about all the changes so far Chef Tim explains “I don’t do it to be radical, I do it because we have a huge childhood nutrition problem in this country and in school kids should be eating real, local food.”