Update from Food Services and Wellness: Give feedback on food services survey, meet the new culinary program supervisor, and more!

Dear families, staff and community,

Welcome back from spring break! We have been very busy in our corner of the district.

With the opening of the Central Kitchen this year, the food services program is undergoing a transformation to improve school food. We are very excited about the changes we are making to the menu and how we prepare food. We will continue to keep you informed, but we also seek your input as your participation and support are important ingredients for this recipe for change.

Please share your current thoughts about school meals by taking this short survey that takes less than five minutes to complete. Please respond by April 19.

Thank you for your time and feedback.

Patrick Durgan, executive chef and food services director

Jessica Sankey, director of wellness

A graphic asking people to take a survey

School menus online

Our school menus can always be found online.

Food services and wellness directors keynote at the Food Coop’s Annual Meeting
Patrick Durgan, executive chef and director of food services, and Jessica Sankey, director of wellness, presented the keynote address at the Food Co-op Annual Meeting on March 30 at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal. They shared the district’s Good Food Promise, making connections to the Co-op’s initiatives of healthy food access and equity, diversity and inclusion. They also explained how the menu is transitioning to a scratch-based cooking model in the new Central Kitchen and shared many other exciting initiatives in the food services program.

Photo below: (left to right) Patrick Durgan, Food Coop general manager Adrienne Renz and Jessica Sankey with the Food Coop’s $1,000 donation made to the Foundation’s new Good Food Promise Fund in support of school food.

Jessica Sankey and Chef Patrick

“Healthy food is not a privilege; it’s a right!”  Eco hip-hop artists performed at two school events in early March
DJ Cavem and Alkemia, (photo below) Denver-based eco hip-hop artists, organic gardeners and vegan chefs, spread the word about healthy eating and caring for the environment via their music at two events in early March. They performed at Options High School on March 6 and at the Shuksan Community Family Night on March 7. The events were organized by Whatcom Family Community Network (WFCN) with major funding from PeaceHealth. Click here for more photos and story.

DJ Cavem

Welcome, Mataio Gillis! New supervisor brings recipe for change

Mataio Gillis joined the food services staff in February as culinary program supervisor and brings with him experience as chef, entrepreneur and local farm-to-table enthusiast. Since 2001, he has served as chef and co-owner of Ciao Thyme with his wife Jessica, making his culinary mark on Bellingham. He now joins the food services team to help ramp up the operations out of the new Central Kitchen, bringing improvements over time to school food.Gillis arrives with many ideas that are borne out of 32 years in restaurants and hospitality and knows how to whip up both excitement and delicious meals.

He is excited to join Bellingham Public Schools and our Food Services Vision. “This represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in our community,” Gillis said, “and my hope is that we can inspire a culture of healthy eaters.”

“Nutrition is not just about the way our body processes the food we eat. It is also about the intrinsic value of a healthy mind and body that good food and food culture can affect. It’s a package deal!”

Photo below:  Gillis and Durgan stand in front of the visioning board as they plan next year’s menus.

Mataio and Chef Patrick

Sehome High’s new sustainable cafeteria
The new cafeteria at Sehome High School (below) includes real utensils, breaking away from single use plastic. It also has a new milk dispenser, further reducing the waste stream.  Read the story online…

the sehome cafeteria

Bread Lab! author visits Alderwood Elementary to talk grains, the March Harvest of the Month

Kim Binczewski, managing director of the Bread Lab of Washington State University located in Mount Vernon, visited Alderwood cafeteria on March 28 during lunchtime to talk to students about grains. She set up a small display on a cafeteria cart and moved around the cafeteria engaging with students about different types of grains and flours.

Kim is the author of the book Bread Lab!, a children’s book about the science of sourdough bread baking.

Harvest of the month

Reminder: online payments available

We regularly notify families about low or negative balances in student food services accounts. An easy way to add money to a food account is by making payments through the online system called MyPaymentsPlus Families can also continue to pay for school meals with cash or check at their school. First time registering? Visit our Food Services Online Payments webpage.