The Secret Sauce!

Wow… it has been almost 9 months since I have actually sat down to write.   Where did the time go???

2018 was such a busy year, such a change-filled year.   I suppose that is why I have neglected writing… too many other things taking up space in my calendar and in my thoughts.  But now, the calendar has turned.  We are opening up into a new year, with new possibilities, new challenges, new adventures.   So, once again… I am attempting to capture my thoughts & experiences.  Perhaps only for me… as a sort of online journal – I mean, who reads this stuff anyway?  But also perhaps for others to share in the experience and to commiserate and celebrate the successes and failures of working in the ever changing field of child nutrition.


2018 ended with a bit of excitement.  As a self professed newsy-nerdy type… I have always thought it would be awesome to have Public Radio do a story on our district’s school nutrition program & the successes that we have achieved.   We’ve been in the local newspaper before… and even on the local television news, but somehow (for me, anyway) Public Radio was a sort of major success – an opportunity to broadly share our amazing school nutrition journey.

With the changing (yet again) USDA guidelines and some recent news stories of how some local districts are choosing to not participate in the National School Lunch Program, I had a Maine Public reporter call me.  Our phone chat ended up leading to a nearly 4 hour on site visit, and a wonderful news story that aired on Maine Public Radio, as well as on their social media channels.   You can listen to the Maine Public news piece here.


Patty Wight, from Maine Public interviews Chef Samantha Gasbarro & Chef Ryan Roderick

In the report, the reporter refers to our district chef, Chef Samantha Gasbarro as our “secret weapon”.   It is 100% true that having a chef on staff has helped our district overcome hurdles that other districts were challenged by, when trying to meet the school nutrition guidelines of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.  Chef Sam helped us to develop kid tested & kid approved scratch cooking recipes, trained & supported our staff, conducted in classroom food education sessions as well as after school cooking clubs, all of which made a huge impact on our school nutrition program and our community.

Windham Raymond School Nutrition staff during a recent professional development day

But if having a chef as an integral part of our school nutrition program’s administrative staff is our “secret weapon”, then our team – our kitchen managers, cooks and kitchen helpers –  is our “secret sauce”.   This dream team of school nutrition pros have amazed us with their commitment and dedication to feeding healthy food to the students  in our community.   They are an endless source of inspiration and enthusiasm.  This team helps us trouble shoot problems and embrace challenges.  And they do it all with enthusiasm & excitement & pride!  When I google the term, “Secret Sauce” this is the definition that I get:

Secret Sauce: A special quality or feature regarded as the chief factor in the success of something or someone.

YES!  That is exactly what I am talking about here.   Our staff, our team – they are the chief factor in the success of our school nutrition program.  Without them. our ideas, our inspiration, our mission… is lost.  We can’t do it without them… our success depends on their enthusiastic dedication.

All across the country, school nutrition workers are hard at work, ensuring that the children of this country are being fed healthy & nutritious food.  They are #FeedingtheFuture and they are integral to the success of every school nutrition program across the country.  They are … the “Secret Sauce”.  They are amazing!dots background with picnic basket graphic picnic invitation


In other news… as many of you know, our district chef, Chef Sam has moved on, taking some time off to be at home with her young family and to work on some other projects.   This visit from Maine Public came during her final weeks working in our district, which made the whole event somewhat bittersweet, and yet extra special as well.   We have hired a new chef, Chef Ryan Roderick, and we are incredibly excited to continue our school food adventures.   More about our transition in the future!

Chef Ryan Roderick at a recent Maine School Nutrition Association “Smoothie Smackdown” – (his team won!!)









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