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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