Wednesday, March 14, 2012

use the force

There’s a fairly long trail of tears concerning school lunches in America. I don’t need to rehash those details here, I’m sure everyone is capagoogle of finding that data.

One of the massive problems with my school is that they prey on young folks who want to learn cooking and the industry, but can ill afford to pay the tuition cost in their post-graduate lives. As a ‘private’, for-profit school (owned at least partly by Goldman Sachs), the Ai umbrella of schools charge an exorbinent amount of money for a two-year culinary arts degree: somewhere around $64,000, not including housing if you are taking 14 credits per quarter with labs fees, etc. That’s an expensive degree for a career field that will start you out at $10/hour. I could send L. to a lot of high-end universities for $32k per year in tuition.

How about this: some program that offers newly minted culinary graduates a partnership with schools districts in northern Virginia? Between Arlington and Fairfax counties there are only about a gazillions public schools that might be interested in a program that provides them qualified culinarians for enhancing their school meals. Stage two is that the graduates work for X number of years while their loans are frozen. When they complete three years of employment, the loan is paid off, or forgiven (or amnestied – just to rile up the conservatives).

It wouldn’t be easy, but if you think about a 20- or 21-year old grad (two years, post-H.S.) entering the FCPS system at US-10 to US-12 pay, then a three- or four-year commitment isn’t horrible – they can be done at between 23-25 years old, have experience and no debt. Part of that pay would in include health insurance for a full-time employee who’d make about $44k per year from the county. Based on a wage in their hands of $35k per year (remember, no loan payments), there’s $9,000 per year that goes to the program, with the remainder being covered by the county, state, federal government, or forgiven directly from the school. If all four combined, each would ‘contribute’ between $1,750 and $2,250 per year – a pittance, really. What the schools get are employees who may stick with the district for years; the students get to work off their loans/tuition; and kids get food that isn’t complete shit. Truth be told, based on how huge schools function it would be a long road. They’d have to buy in to renegotiating food service contracts so they’d have fresh ingredients. They’d have to cook from scratch. They’d have to menu plan. They’d need cost control. But, as much as I might badmouth certain aspectsof my school, some of the top grads who’ve paid attention are capable of doing all those things. The hope would be that they wouldn’t be tucked off in a corner, angry, mad, and underutilized for three years.

If I dug around I could find evidence of contracts for school lunches that include nothing but ingredients made fresh every day. A betting man will say that the costs involved to districts is either equal to, or just more, than the crap contracts they have in schools now.

And, for those that think kids won’t eat good food, asks X about her position on kids and eating.

And for parents who think by giving your kids only good food at school is some violation of your constitutional rights? Zip it. You’re only embarrassing yourselves….

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