I had a nickname in my later years during elementary school which I have the cereal Shreddies and my mother to thank for. As my mother was always interested in my personal health my sandwiches for my school lunch were always whole wheat bread. Nothing strange about that right? Well, it was one day at school sitting at the lunch table when it became quite apparent that I was the only kid that ate whole wheat bread out of all my classmates. A couple of the kids twisted the musical jingle to the Shreddies commercial from ‘Good good whole wheat Shreddies’ to ‘Good good whole wheat Jordan’. At this point in one’s life the most meaningless remarks, if said in a demeaning way, can be the end of your life. When I got home from school I begged and pleaded to my mother to provide me with white bread to end this embarrassment I had to relive on the daily during lunch hour. I thank you for not caving in mother and forcing me to continue living a healthy life. I also remember hotdog day, which again, my mother would not support but on occasion when I had a few dollars in my pocket I could afford a sodium nitrate stick stuck between a white bun covered in sugared sauces.
By highschool I wasn’t the only one eating whole wheat but I was still financially strained and the cafeteria was still a place to eat and not a place to purchase food. I would often look longingly at the few other children who ate the cafeteria food on the daily wondering how much better it was than my tuna mix salad sandwich and bag of carrots. Although my mother tried to feed me healthy food, organic was still not the norm and my lunches were lacking but at least she was trying. Later I realized that the food being served in the cafeteria was appalling in comparison. I never remember seeing one of the cook staff looking happy, they always looked like depressed robots drifting through their day-to-day lives. The cafeteria always had that sickly sweet smell of industrial cleaner that had been over applied by the custodian to clean the floors and tables adding to the whole disdain that I grew to hate about school lunches.
Years later working in restaurants my respect for food truly blossomed. The thing I also noticed was the cooking staff actually cared about the food that they prepared and you could see it on there faces. Okay, maybe not every one of them, some just wanted enough money to pay rent, drink beer, and smoke pot, but most truly have an appreciation for what they do. This isn’t just a passion for cooking. When cooks have products and ingredients that are quality and come from a respectable source they already feel they need to cook with more care. Add a creative freedom to their job and you not only have good food but healthy food as well. You have the beginnings to happy workers, now it’s a matter of income to make the recipe finally work.
An organisation called UNITE HERE was created to not only protect food service workers of all fields but to encourage and incorporate sustainable food initiatives at the same time. They represent over 90,000 food service workers employed in corporate cafeterias, airports, universities, school districts, sports stadiums and event centers, amusement parks, cultural institutions, and national parks. In addition, UNITE HERE represents tens of thousands of restaurant workers inside hotels and casinos. Here’s an example of change for the better that UNITE HERE managed to help achieve at Yale University: Yale Case Study