The top priorities for students in this environment are safety and cleanliness. We do a fair amount of safety and sanitation training and establish a culture of safety awareness before entering the kitchen, including rearranging the tables in my classroom to resemble the real kitchen’s layout and role-playing everyone’s task. We also establish procedures for how to safely move about the kitchen, handle knives, heat and raw meat. I always get a kick out of watching the kids in action carrying around a hot pan shouting, “Hot, behind you, coming through!” and having everyone else scurry out of their way. Students must also adhere to a strict dress code before they are allowed to participate. If a student doesn’t pass dress inspection before we enter the Kitchen, they become my personal assistant for tasks outside the kitchen such as setting up the classroom tables for dining.
- I spent about $3 on ingredients per student
- If I were cooking for 1000 students (the size of my school) I could have dropped the price per student down by buying more of my ingredients in bulk
- The $150 price tag only included ingredients. It did not include any uncontrollable costs such as cookware, appliances or utility costs
- Labor was not a factor. In the business world, it is considered a controllable cost in that a business can decide who to hire, for how long and how much to pay.
- If I had a single clone of myself, I could probably manage the entire meal for all fifty students within 2 hours, but that wasn’t the point of this experiment.
Overall, the students made tasty food that they all enjoyed and the experience was overall a positive one. The teachers who dined with us were impressed by what the students were able to accomplish and really enjoyed the meal. If I were to compare my classes, the larger class always seems to make me pull my hair out a little more than the smaller class. They were not able to successfully make the sauce in time, failed to complete one batch of cinnamon rolls and finished fifteen minutes late. Somehow, the dishwashers managed to use half of a bottle of detergent and all 50 of my kitchen towels and still left pots and pans somewhat dirty. A colleague who assists me on the larger class day says that I frequently resemble Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen. On both days when I get home from school, I usually end up doing any left over dishes, skipping dinner (or eating McDonald’s) and going to sleep at 7pm.
Anyway, I hope you all have enjoyed reading my excessively long post. I also hope that it inspires conversation about some of the great things that can be accomplished with school lunch and some of the challenges we have yet to overcome!