Food For Thought

Cooks at Centennial Elementary prepare dough for oatmeal honey rolls they serve at lunch.

By Kristin Pazulski

Photography by Adrian DiUbaldo

Leo Lesh’s food service enterprise includes 156 locations and serves about 38,700 lunches per day. He’s not open on the weekends, charges just $1.40 per meal (if customers pay full price, though many do not) and he gets just $2.72 per meal beyond that charge to cover all his food, labor and operations costs.

Most would say it’s an impossible feat. A dying business, one that won’t make it, but this is no ordinary food service business. And Lesh, executive director of Denver Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services, has not only managed to keep DPS’s school lunch program chugging along, he’s slowly improving the nutritional side of a traditionally unhealthy meal.

And just in time too. While Lesh has been looking for ways to reduce sodium in cheese and fat in milk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been developing guidelines that will require him to do just that.

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Local Buzz: Cheese sandwich policy - Some essential ingredients are still missing.

Published October 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 9

by Karolyn Tregembo

On July 21st, the U.S. House passed resolution 164 honoring the 40th anniversary of the Food and Nutrition Service of the Department of Agriculture. Rep. James McGovern (Mass.), who sponsored the resolution which recognizes 40 years of service and contributions to the citizens of this country, applauded the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service for fighting hunger in the United States, but went on to express his concern that more hasn’t been done to work toward President Obama’s campaign pledge to end childhood hunger by 2015.

This is a daunting task, particularly in light of a growing trend among public schools that has come to be known by nonprofits and the media as the “cheese sandwich policy.”

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