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1/19/2014 6:00:00 AM
In Kingman schools: Chef tries to add life to food that meets federal guidelines
Garibaldi tries to add life to school food that meets federal guidelines
KIM STEELE/Miner
Visiting chef Luigi Garibaldi stirs a large pot of spaghetti sauce and meat with a wooden spoon at the Kingman Unified School Districtís central kitchen. Behind him, assistant cook Fran Simpson boils spaghetti noodles for the school lunch, which included a small salad with dressing, garlic bread and a cup of pears.
KIM STEELE/Miner
Visiting chef Luigi Garibaldi stirs a large pot of spaghetti sauce and meat with a wooden spoon at the Kingman Unified School Districtís central kitchen. Behind him, assistant cook Fran Simpson boils spaghetti noodles for the school lunch, which included a small salad with dressing, garlic bread and a cup of pears.
KIM STEELE/Miner
Visiting chef Luigi Garibaldi prepares garlic bread for students eating lunch prepared by the Kingman Unified School District. Garibaldi is spending the month of January helping staff at the central kitchen prepare menus, season food and cook more meals from scratch instead of serving processed food.
KIM STEELE/Miner
Visiting chef Luigi Garibaldi prepares garlic bread for students eating lunch prepared by the Kingman Unified School District. Garibaldi is spending the month of January helping staff at the central kitchen prepare menus, season food and cook more meals from scratch instead of serving processed food.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - When it comes to school lunches, Paula Loomis understands they're not always the most tasty or attractive plates on the table.

Loomis, who has spent 26 years in food service with the Kingman Unified School District and has been its director for five years, wanted to change that. So in December, she asked the district's governing board to allow her to hire a visiting chef for a month to spice up the students' school lunches.

Her request was approved, and local chef Luigi Garibaldi came to work this month at the district's central kitchen, located at 3174 Rutherford St. Since then, he has been planning menus and concocting meals that he hopes will appeal to students' senses of smell and taste. Garibaldi also is educating the staff about the art of seasoning food. This is the first time an outside chef has worked in the district's kitchen.

The district feeds 3,800 elementary and middle school students daily during the week, and about 600 students at Kingman High School and 200 at Lee Williams High School. All meals, which are cooked in the central kitchen and distributed to the district's schools, must follow the guidelines of the National School Lunch Program, which limits the number of calories, sodium and carbohydrates in lunches.

"Food services is a very important part of education," said Loomis. "If the kids don't eat, they won't learn. All they'll be thinking about during school are their empty stomachs. But it's very challenging to make school lunches appealing on the guidelines we're given. Chef Luigi has been working to improve the flavor and quality of our food, as well as make more from scratch instead of serving processed food. He's a professional chef and he's done a lot here already."

On Thursday morning, Garibaldi cooked a large pot of spaghetti sauce and meat as assistant cook Fran Simpson boiled whole grain spaghetti. Together, they made 500 pounds of sauce and meat, and 120 pounds of pasta for students' lunches, topping the meal off with small salads, garlic bread and pear cups. For a previous lunch, they baked 700 pounds of meatloaf. As a new item on the district's menu, Garibaldi added turkey meat and vegetables rolled up in whole-wheat tortillas.

Cooking for school lunches has been an eye-opening experience, said Garibaldi, a Kingman resident for five years after moving here from Anchorage, Alaska, where he lived for 11 years. There, he cooked for Orso, a high-end seafood restaurant, and ConocoPhillips Anchorage, an oil company that offered a restaurant for its employees. Garibaldi moved here when his wife, Ann Marie, got a job as a physician assistant for Fasttrack Urgent Care.

Once here, Garibaldi worked for two years as a kitchen supervisor at Hualapai Mountain Hospital until it closed, then got a job at Dora's Beale Street Deli for two years, helping her with dinners and catered events. He quit to start his own business, called Cooking With Luigi, where he will cook with clients at their houses or his own.



A challenge

"Making school lunches is very different from what I've done in the past, and I've learned a lot so far," said Garibaldi. "Right now, I'm responsible for the most precious things in this city, which are the children. I have two kids of my own, so I know how hard it is to get them to eat well. It's a challenge to educate kids about eating right, because people eat out these days. My job here is to create something that tickles students' palates and tastes good."

Loomis said the new, chef-cooked lunches cut down on food waste, because students are more likely to eat what is on their plates now. Loomis couldn't provide a figure on how much food is wasted in the district annually, but noted much of it has been eliminated because students are only required to take three components of the school lunch, with one being a fruit or vegetable, and can skip the items that don't appeal to them.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, February 3, 2014
Article comment by: R H

The fact that we have FEDERAL mandates for this really should anger far more people than it now seems to. Who are the FEDS to decide ?. Also consider that maybe we need to rethink this entire concept of 'free lunches' that the kids won't eat . The old phrase "There is no such thing as a free lunch" should be going through peoples heads . If the parents stop getting subsidized food for their kids , maybe they will stop popping out so many kids ?. Why is the United States the only country that seems to have a problem with childhood obesity AND childhood hunger ?. Return to the sack-lunch idea and get the school district out of the food business.

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Article comment by: Lisa Garcia

Why can't anyone say anything nice these days?....What a bunch of complainers you are...They're trying to make it better and you got one complaining about money which had nothing to do with the story....a food service lady putting down her own job ( real smart...let me know when you get employee of the year ).....Paula does what she can do and does it while staying in federal guidelines...Instead of complaining, we not make VALID suggestions....

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Article comment by: Lena Margita

Anyone remember Mrs. Soto and her crew making enchiladas in the cafeteria kitchen, and baked chicken, stew, etc, - real food cooking ON-SITE? I know it was 25 years ago - but sometimes change is just BAD. Cooking from a central location crap that isn't good even as re-heat and eat is not worth parent's $ or kid's tummy's.

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

"Gloves go on your hand, not in your back pocket"

Notice, the guy in the second photo handling the bread is not wearing gloves either. Makes me wonder how common it is for the employees not to wear them


Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014
Article comment by: worst food ever

I've been eating the nasty school food. The Mac n cheese made me wanna barf. no kids would eat the meatloaf or the spaghetti. The sausage gravy smelled bad.

Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Article comment by: gun guy

looks like somebody needs to go back to food handling class.. gloves go on your hand not in your back pocket:'(


Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014
Article comment by: buster brown

what happened to the days of chili beans,mexi corn, corn bread, whacky cake and milk?

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014
Article comment by: Thai Mai Shu

People actually eat meatloaf? That stuff is just nasty.

What I am trying to figure out is why the high schools don't utilize their culinary program and serve lunch to the students themselves?


Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014
Article comment by: Nikki Berry

It sounds like the National School Lunch guidelines need to be modified or ignored.

We need to get off the federal mammary and take charge of OUR children's health and diet. If we, as a community, want to feed our children better than some lowest common denominator federal program designates, then we need to pony up as a community and pay for it. We all know food isn't cheap, and it certainly isn't free.

If we're happy with the food that comes out of the central kitchen, then there's nothing to see here, citizen. Move along. If we're not happy, we need to make a change together, as a community.

I suggest you read the National School Lunch guidelines. It's a google search away.


Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014
Article comment by: Mr. Karaoke In Chloride

Correct me if I'm wrong but shouldn't his gloves be on his hands and not in his back pocket?

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Article comment by: kusd employee and parent

I know central kitchen tries there best. You have to remember this is all goverment food so they have to comply to what they say and paula does a great job and most of these kids have free lunches and a menu so if they dont like something well parents get up and makem a cold lunch that simple.

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Article comment by: Kingman Parent II

This sounds like a good change. However, I have two students at Lee Williams and they report to me that there was neither spaghetti or meatloaf served last week. I do hear reports of green chicken nuggets that smell and taste like canned dog food, salad with a worm in it and sandwiches with green moldy bread. They also report that there is never enough food that is edible for the whole school, the food is generally processed and cold, the lunch staff do not prepare food and there is not enough time for the entire school to stand in line to get food and eat with only one lunch period for the whole school. I would like to see these items looking into by the Miner and have the whole picture reported.

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Article comment by: Patricia Majerus

I work for KUSD food service. I do understand what Ms. Loomis is trying to achieve but Chef Luigi isn't doing that. The Meatloaf me made was unappealing and tasteless. The kids would not eat it and it went in the trash. The other meal he prepared was worst then the Meatloaf. It was Macaroni and Cheese, it should of been thrown in the trash before it reached the schools. The kids didn't know what it was and wouldn't eat it. It was totally disgusting and had no taste.. One student stated that it was bad that they paid for a full lunch and only had milk because they won't touch the rest of the food on the tray.

There is a big different between a Chef and quantity cooking with quality. I really hope someone wakes up before the kids go hungry.


Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Article comment by: KUSD Teacher

Maybe KUSD needs to hire a consultant to come in and do the same thing for our administration, not one from Vail. Instead, our district just keeps copying Vail School District in the hopes that something great will happen. Why donít we copy their salary schedule? In the end, weíll end up copying everything they do, except their salary schedule. You see, you canít expect to make great changes that are effective if you donít have enough good teachers. We canít keep a lot of our good teachers, because our teacher-salary schedule is pathetic. That wonít change though. We always have money for everything but raises. We'll get more change "in lieu" of a raise.

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Article comment by: school asst

I am an asst with the school district. I appreciate what he is doing here but i also witness first hand how much these kids really eat. I make the kids at least take a bite before going out to play. So much food IS being wasted. Anyways, the comment i was really getting at... That meatloaf, NONE of the kids ate it, even the ones who usually clear their plate didnt touch it. It looked very unappetizing (like somethin you would find in a toilet actually). I personally tried it and it was disgusting.

Posted: Sunday, January 19, 2014
Article comment by: A Friend HMMC

Luigi served the best food that a "HOSPITAL" ever had. The Hualapai Burger (my favorite) since i named it was Out of this world! Good luck Luigi!!.



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