Spring break and big breaks

Spring break uneventfully came and went. I started out of the gate like gangbusters on Monday, with a full day of testing bagel recipes. But when I discovered the organic yeast wasn't very perky, I gave up and my enthusiasm for baking deflated along with my dough.

The rest of the week is a blur - I got angry with daughter's private school for holding a fundraiser at a chain pizza joint (the one with games and tokens), which sent the rest of my week into a frenzy of trying to figure out how to convince the world to eat better and get schools to stop endorsing chain pizza joints. My daughter goes to a private Montessori school, which is supposed to be encouraging farming, sustainability, and the like, not hopping on the chain-gang of crappy food.

Emails back and forth to the administration and PTO didn't make a dent in their fast-food school-of-thought, and my concerns of why we weren't focusing on Montessori fund raising (holding a drive-in movie at the school with homemade popcorn, having a car wash with soap the kids made from scratch, or similar) fell on deaf ears. I was told that, "Pizza isn't a deal breaker for most parents," and "Let's focus on the positive." In other words, "Shut up, Mrs. Viola, you're the only one who doesn't take her kids to burger and pizza joints that offer toys and prizes."

I felt defeated and angry. I get that it's pop-culture and hard to resist the marketing, and if parents choose to feed this stuff to their kids on their own, that's their business. It shouldn't be endorsed by schools though, especially a Montessori school.

Just when I had given up hope on ever trying to convince parents to stop feeding their children crap every day, I received an email from a friend of mine who runs a food management company. Her company just happens to provide healthy lunch programs to schools across the country and they were looking for a chef/recipe developer/tester and marketing person to help with their growing company.

The fact that they're growing so quickly means that parents everywhere are starting to get it - they're starting to realize that healthy foods are important for their kids and family. That alone makes me feel great. But the best part is that they offered me the position, which I graciously accepted.

I want to cry, I'm so excited to be making a difference this way - starting in a couple of weeks, I'll be developing and testing healthy school lunch recipes for schools across the country. And once the recipes are finalized, I'll help to create the marketing materials, videos and cookbooks for the schools using our program, as well as traveling to teach them how to cook the recipes.

The position is part time for now so I can finish school. I’ll also still hang on to my kitchen manager position at school to supplement, as well as continue my freelance food writing. It feels like I’ve finally pulled my career together, doing all of the things I love. Neat.

Oh, and our daughter is thankfully going to a different school next year in a smaller community where I’ll be able to offer cooking classes to the school kids and their families.

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
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            • A contemporary, career-focused institution of higher education dedicated to excellence since 1902.
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