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OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 169

Hunger affects over 34 million people in the US, including 9 million children. There were an estimated 640,540 people in Louisiana live with food insecurity, 236,010 of which were children. Those numbers have dropped a bit and some of the credit has been given Governor John Bel Edwards for signing HB 888 into law supporting Louisiana Colleges and Universities becoming “hunger free”. Early 2023 reports citing the Annie E Casey Foundation’s data, showing a decrease to 197,000 Louisiana children or 18% of Louisiana children are food insecure. However, the data is still dire in the Capital Area Region where of the 9 parishes, only Ascension Parish does not boast extreme food insecurity rates. From lowest to highest, the numbers range from 18.8% or 2.7% higher than the national average in West Feliciana to 32% or 15.9% higher than the national average in St. Helena. From Summer feeding programs to the new menus that are rolling out this year at EBRPSS, it is important to be sure every one has enough because hunger affects both physical and mental health. What are some of the resources available in schools right now? Well, ...

Join us this Friday as we hear from our guest speakers talk about food insecurity and how we might improve conditions for our neighbors cause we all know that “Ya Gotta Eat!” in good times and in bad.

  • Dr. Nadine Mann - East Baton Rouge Parish School System, Child Nutrition Program Administrative Director

  • Caitlyn Scales - Three O'Clock Project Director of Development

  • Chef Maria Newman - EBRPSS Regional Chef

  • Chef James Porter - EBRPSS Regional Chef

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Casey Phillips: Hello! All right. And we're just going to go ahead and start today and jump right into some policy work. And, I do want to open up for a minute. We came off a couple of nice days of weather, right? It has been an incredible week of in person meetings with the One Rouge Coalition, which we will be reporting out next Friday on.

And in general, it's actually been a joyful week and I want to celebrate that it's been a joyful week. And if anybody has anything incredible to share, I would love for you to come off mute and keep lifting up this group. Anyone, anything incredible to share.

Maria Holiday: I think I can and I am really proud about meal service yesterday here in East Baton Rouge Parish Schools. I don't know if you guys open your social media but yesterday we had chicken and waffles on the menu. And the lines were out of the door. I don't think that everybody was able to get an have an opportunity to try the chicken and waffles because we serve so many more students than what we normally would serve.

But yeah, it was just amazing to see long, long lines in the cafes and the positive feedback on social media about the new menus.

Casey Phillips: Yeah, celebrate that. Wait to hear more about this. because he doesn't like chicken and waffles. It's true. Who else? Anybody else want to share before we jump in?

I can say this. We have for the first time in the, I believe that we have about 15% of the call right now all have OneRouge tees on. So look at that. Look at that right there. Look at that. Look all the way across the board and said it's that is quite a, that is quite a quad effect. If that's even a word, I just made it up.

So anyway, welcome to the space. Happy Friday and Pepper. I'm going to turn it over to you so we can jump right in on nutrition

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. Let's get to it. Thank you all for being here on this fun Friday. We are doing food as part of our back to indeed. It's bronzer. I also need a shirt. Anyway, back to school pride are back to school series.

We are talking about food and food insecurity and we are going to start off with Three O'Clock Project talking about. The good food purchasing policy that is going to be coming up real soon. Caitlin, if you wouldn't mind letting us all know we know who you are, what you do, but in the context and set the scene for us.

Dr. Caitlyn Scales: Yeah. Good morning, everyone. For some of you, maybe many of you, this is a little bit of a repeat update for some of you, it might be new. So at the Three O'Clock Project, Emily and I have been working with American Heart Association and Voices for Healthy Kids with a grant to push some policy in Louisiana.

And what we chose to work on is a partnership with East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools and their child nutrition program. They have a great opportunity of change right now with hiring some chefs, updating these menus, things like what we just celebrated. And there's some steps that we feel as a partnership and as a community could continue to move forward.

And I think a lot of the time what Emily and I see ourselves being able to do is just act as a support and liaison to help people achieve great things. And empower kids to have great opportunities along the way. So the good food purchasing policy is part of this partnership as well as an updated wellness policy for the district.

And so we've been part of a team of folks that have been working on both of those policies. The good food purchasing policy is really pertinent to today because it talks about procurement. And so the board for the district will pass this policy, which would put into play of values based approach for procuring food and serving kids. We recently actually, Chef James, when we were meeting earlier this week, I thought it was really fun to think about how procurement, often a silo in and of itself to just operate large districts and get food into the district to put out to schools.

Also directly informs how we're engaging with kids and how chefs are doing out in the field and what's happening at each campus, of which there are many. And so it's exciting to think about how the procurement component of these policies going on the September agenda with the district will help push these changes that the team is already working on at Child Nutrition forward which is really exciting.

Emily, do you have anything to add about it before I share a link with folks and pass it off to Dr. Mann and team?

Emily Chatelain: Nope, just echoing, it's neat to see this has been passed in a lot of other school districts across the country. Not a lot. Maybe 10 to 12. So it's fun to be ahead of the curve on some of these big policies that we see often get passed elsewhere.

I think it started in LA. So yeah, we're just excited to see the ball rolling and have a really good partnership with you here.

Dr. Caitlyn Scales: Yeah. So before we pass it off to the child nutrition team who's doing all of the great work bringing schools back online this fall I'm gonna drop in the chat a call for support.

Some of you on the call have already submitted letters of support and your logos for us to use at the board meeting in September. Which is amazing help. And we're just looking to have more. So our goal is to have a robust community partnership effort to show support for these. The wellness policy and specifically the good food purchasing policy on the agenda with board members in September.

So this will give you a link to the good food purchasing program. So you can scour through that if you're interested. It also provides you a link of an unofficial copy of the policy that's going to be presented to the board. And then there's four clear ways that you can participate with us listed as well, all with direct links.

And my phone number is on there too, if you need anything or have questions or want to talk about it further. So yeah, that's all I have to bring to the table today. I appreciate the opportunity for us to put that plug in and we are excited and hopeful that it all passes and we can keep building this relationship and doing awesome things with the district.

Pepper Roussel: Thank you food friends. Really appreciate the work that you do as well as how it is that that this policy in and of itself is going to impact the kids in East Baton Rouge Parish school system. Speaking of which, see what I did there. Dr. Mann is next up. Dr. Mann, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do and what are your thoughts on? child or student insecurity, food insecurity. Your five minutes starts now.

Dr Nadine Mann: Thank you. I'm Dr. Mann. I'm the director of the Child Nutrition Program. I've worked in the district for over 45 years and had an incredible journey with my career and very excited to see at nearing the end of my career that we've been able to hire two chefs and just most recently we've I've been approved for a public information officer to help us with image and marketing and getting the good word out on social media about the child nutrition program and I see Adonica is on and Adonica, remember when we started with our, breakfast in the classroom. And it was like three of us working on that to try and get that promotion done. And just to give the group a perspective of the volume of meals that we serve, it is really incredible. When you talk about food insecurity and the impact that we make in with the kids in our school system we serve over 50, 000 meals a day.

in about one and a half hours. We have a lunch that we serve. We do breakfast. We have in the afternoon, we have what's called a supper program for after school meals. And that is offered to the principals if they have groups that meet after school. And I can remember as a I'm a member of the marching team in my high school after school. We would stay till 5:30 and I was starving by the time I got home. So this after school program has been something near and dear to me. And we brought it to the first district in Louisiana to have that program. So we're operating in 71 schools with that after school program. So we make a difference in kids not only during the school day, but after school.

And then we have the fresh fruit and vegetable program that is in 25 schools, those that have an elementary grade level configuration. And that is wonderful because kids get a snack of fresh fruits, that are free to them. And it is given like right after lunch and they experience maybe kiwi fruit or some other fruit, pineapple, fresh pineapple that maybe they had never had before.

So that's a really exciting program that we're able to offer. And then of course, what I feel that we teach our students is portion control and not necessarily upsizing, but lots of fruits and vegetables. Lots of whole grains and kids are offered milk every day, twice a day, and so that helps with the calcium and the other nutrients that the milk has to offer.

So they may not be getting milk at home, that's an expensive item. Parents may forego that for other things. We're exciting. We're going to be putting in I'm hoping to put in a test kitchen, just test kitchen so that we can do more menu development. And that's going to be coming along. And the last thing I want to say is, as every other department in the school district, we're struggling for staff.

So I have openings And if you know someone who wants to come to work in the child nutrition program, please have them get in touch with me. And we have jobs all over the parish. So if a person doesn't have transportation, they may be able to just walk to work to a nearby school. So exciting things are going on for us.

And I thank you for sharing

Pepper Roussel: Exciting times. Yeah. Dr. Mann, so I have dropped the documents that were included in the reminder as well as two links about child nutrition, Louisiana fit kids in the chat. These are things that doctor man has provided for us to to look over it.

However, there is also a chat, a question in the chat about where do they go to apply for? Where do people go to apply for work? If there's anybody on Dr. Mann's team or Dr. Mann yourself, y'all can drop in the chat link to wherever it is that you go to apply or find out more about the available positions.

We would appreciate it. And that said, I'm gonna shift gears and go directly to those folks who prepare meals. And I was a little taken aback. Like I said earlier today, Chef Maria wants to be a person and I don't know why that is but it looks like Chef James also wants to be a person first and last names.

Maria Holiday, if you wouldn't mind letting us know who you are, what you do, and how we can be involved in child nutrition as well as making sure that our kids are not food insecure. I'd appreciate it. Your five minute starts is now.

Maria Newman: Thank you, Pepper. So I'm Maria Newman and I started in K 12 schools right here in EBR almost 10 years ago.

And the great thing is I started as a kitchen manager and then I worked my way through the procurement department to being hired as the first chef for the district. I was very vocal about the needs for our program to our director and she made this possible. I'm very passionate about creating culinary solutions for our school nutrition program, which includes creating recipes that reflect the dynamic and culture of the student body.

Also, it's important for me to develop and serve recipes that reflect dynamic and culture, are healthy, and appeal to the students that we serve every day.

I also continue researching ways to implement tactics to aid in combating childhood obesity and food insecurity, prevent plate waste and increase food consumption. So I talked about the chicken and waffles yesterday. So we did a complete revamp of our menus and I felt like we had a lot of plate waste in the past, which we know a lot of students are not eating at home.

Their meals come. When they come to school, they get their meals when they come to school, some of the only meals they get all day, but why aren't they eating? And I think it was the options that we were offering my main goal was to create trendier food options, food that they were familiar with, but also make it healthier, like the chicken and waffles, or hot breakfasts like grits and eggs, opposed to maybe a cold danish creating variety.

So offering them a hot breakfast, but then also offering cereal. Maybe they are not familiar with avocado toast just yet, or maybe they just don't want it. But we want them to trust us as their food service provider of choice. And no, hey, I might not want avocado toast, but I can't get cereal at school.

And it does help with us with serving a child a meal. Also increasing dairy consumption. We implemented coffee bars last fall, increased breakfast participation by 27% in the high schools. We have smoothies and smoothie bowls coming in the spring. That includes yogurt and frozen fruit and skim milk. So these are all things that we're doing to try and increase participation in our schools.

Pepper Roussel: fantastic. So I've got a question that I wasn't intending to ask, but I'm asking it now. Can I call you a lunch lady?

Maria Newman: Yes, I'm a lunch lady. I have a pen that says be nice to me. Yes, I'm a lunch lady. Yes, I'm a lunch lady.

Pepper Roussel: That is phenomenal. All right. So chef James, I don't know how you following this because you can't be a lunch lady and I'm sorry about that.

But whatever. It is what it is. Chef James Porter, if you wouldn't mind, let us know who you are, what you do and how we can be involved. Your five minutes starts now.

James Porter: Good morning, everybody. I'm Chef James Porter. At the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. As also along with helping Chef Maria with the menus and development I'm also over our farm to school program and we're in the process of launching with three schools.

I, I'm having great assistance from SK. I don't know if he's in the chat in the chat or not, but SK helps us out a lot with developing SOPs and we'll be soon rolling out fresh herbs that we can bring into our kitchens and serve our kids so they can actually understand the process of where their food come from and why it's important to get the nutritional values that they have.

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. Alright, so SK is here cheering y'all on, excited about the good school food work. And there's a question that's already popped up in the chat that is in response to. the encouragement of milk consumption. What about for the kids who are lactose intolerant? Do you all have alternative milk?

James Porter: Yes, ma'am. So we have two dietitians on staff who have developed specialty modified menus. We have in lactose intolerance. One of the things that we cover along with nut free allergies and a host of different things that kids deserve. So we have, we cover pretty much any dietitian need that you would need.

Pepper Roussel: That is phenomenal. And so something that chef Maria mentioned is that this is a paraphrase around culturally appropriate food. So help me. What does that look like? When you're preparing, is it red beans and rice on a monday? Is it noodles and gravy on a Tuesday? Is it a fish fry on fridays?

Help me.

Maria Newman: Exactly. That is exactly what it is. So and not just that, because we know that not all of our students are african american students. We do have hispanic students. We have asian students,

Pepper Roussel: but they don't eat red beans and rice on mondays. What's happening?

Maria Newman: No, it's not that, but we create different dishes like so red beans and rice, right?

But we have say we have caribbean students that's from the caribbean. We do rice and peas. So we're taking the same ingredients that might be in red beans and rice and creating a Totally different dish that caters to the needs of those culturally relevant, those students. But not just that. So we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in September and October so we can appeal to those students.

And February during Lunar New Year, we have some Asian inspired dishes. That appeal to those students. And then we are also gonna be celebrating Italian American heritage this year that will appeal to, and not only does it appeal to those students, it gives other students an opportunity to try different flavors.

Pepper Roussel: So help me and This is not to be rude or disrespectful to either the program or to any culture. Help me with what does it look like if we are celebrating, say, Italian American culture through food? Is that pizza? Is that lasagna? Is that what we think of as Americans that that Italians eat?

Maria Newman: Or... Yeah. Okay. Pasta, chicken parmesan, we have a take on shrimp. Candy. It's a chicken candy. We don't buy shrimp here in the district, but yes, it does look like that ever to answer your question.

Pepper Roussel: Very cool. And Caitlyn can confirm that the plantains and jerk chicken are delicious.

yes. I, it is rare to have really bad jerk chicken, but it can happen. It can. Y'all are cooking. So where does the cooking happen? We were having things about where does the food come from? Are y'all are actually cooking at a headquarters and distributing? Are you cooking on site in each school?

Help me.

Maria Newman: So we are, we, I believe we have 85 sites, but we have about 60 cooking sites. So we are cooking. at those schools. And we do have a few satellite schools who they don't do any cooking on site, but the food is shipped to them. It is made fresh daily breakfast and lunch and shipped over to them.

Pepper Roussel: And is this for, I forget which title it is, but the schools where the kids all get or qualify for free lunch?

Maria Newman: Yes, or Dr. Mann talked about, CEP, yes.

Dr Nadine Mann: Yes, and I didn't mention that, I guess I just assumed everyone knew it, but that's a very good point. Since 2014, we have been able to serve all of our students one free breakfast and one free lunch.

And of course, in the afternoon, a free supper, if they have that program and the fresh fruit and vegetable program. The students do not have to pay. So it is. a wonderful savings and a wonderful way to get meals to students. So that helps immensely. I think we're making a big dent in food insecurity across the city and the parish.

Pepper Roussel: Lovely. When we're talking, because we're talking specifically about public schools, right? So these are schools that have kids from all, swaths of income levels that are just here in the schools themselves. Are there kids who bring lunch and do they still get? free breakfast lunch. Do y'all send?

I believe three o'clock project. Y'all do after school snacks and help me with especially speaking of snacks, there's a comment that most children develop their taste for food in. There we go. Heads, head start of childcare centers. Do y'all reach that far down or is it just kindergarten to twelfth grade?

Dr Nadine Mann: We do and I did put a response to that in the chat. We have pre K programs in most of our elementary schools, but this year we have five. They're actually daycares that are in our public schools and we are, we were able to serve those kids also breakfast and lunch and they can be like age two years old to three, four year old pre K.

So yes, we are reaching that clientele. And I do want to make a comment about the community eligibility program, which is the USDA program, allowing us to serve the free meals to all of our students in the public schools and those charters who participate in our lunch program. Charters are optional to be on the EBR school lunch program they can choose to use a contract management company, which some do, but we do serve some charters.

So those programs are also incorporated in our community eligibility program. And the way that works is kids from all incomes at all schools. Because I'm able to group all of our students into one grouping. So we have the higher income and the lower income. And it allows both of these to receive the free meals.

If the parents choose to send a bag lunch, and they want, say, a milk to drink, they can get their milk free if they choose a fruit or a vegetable, and one other item. Three is the key. student has a bag lunch. They want a free milk. They get their free milk if they also pick up a fruit and another item.

So it's a win even if the parents choose to send a bag lunch with their students.

Pepper Roussel: That's really wildly interesting. And I like that three is the key. So when we are talking about nutrition and what does it look like for kids to eat? There was a mention of of avocado toast but in the same vein talking about culturally appropriate foods.

So I can tell you, I did not grow up eating avocado toast, but it did grow up eating grits and eggs and bacon and all sorts of cereals, right? Help me understand where. what sorts of things are we considering to be healthy? What sorts of oatmeal, what sorts of things are we considering as culturally appropriate?

Where and how are should we be thinking about the food that's being offered?

Maria Newman: So all of the food that we serve is healthy. So we use whole grain and then including our culturally relevant dishes, but things like avocado toast, which is one of those more trendier food options that a lot of our students aren't keen to or does not know about.

I just feel like I have an obligation to share that with them, to introduce that to them because they may not get it at home or get it anywhere else. And it's okay if you don't like it. It's okay. And if it's a thing where, we have avocado toast, but participation is low and it's like that throughout the entire semester, we go back to the menu.

We change it to something that they may like. So we can increase participation on that day. I don't want to feed them foods that they are, they just don't like, prefer not to have, which is where the variety comes in. So we offer cereal every morning as an option for breakfast. If they don't want to get that avocado toast, Cereal is an option because we know that they are all familiar with cereal.

Dr Nadine Mann: We're also doing taste testing with our students. Lots and lots of taste testing. Any new product goes out, the students have a choice of experiencing it. And we have a core group of students that are pulled together. So once a month Chef Maria and Chef James meet with and this year we're excited because it's going to be at the school at different schools in the regions across the district instead of at one place last year.

First time they had done it was at the I. R. C. So the students had to get a parents had to take him there and it was hit or miss as to the numbers. So we've got permission now to have those Student advisory groups out at school. So that will be, the parents won't have to go as far the kids are at the school where they actually go to school and we'll hold that meeting there.

So we're excited about that.

Pepper Roussel: How fun is that? So there's a suggestion that you take the the test, taste testing and make it a reality show. I don't know what that looks like for funding, but it does sound like a hoot and a holler. When y'all are doing these taste tests, like who's actually at that table?

I'm funny. Is this older kids? Is this younger kids? Is it a cross section? Who say says the foods and then we're going to shift to some questions that are already popping up and some more questions in the chat. So if you have any, please put them there and we'll ask in a minute.

Maria Newman: So what shiftings and I like to do, we call it cafeteria takeovers.

So for our younger students or our elementary school aged students and middle school. We'll say, Hey, this is an idea that we have for next semester menu. We'll go to the cafeteria, take it over, prepare samples and during breakfast or lunch hour, we'll pass those samples out. We'll also offer survey so we can understand what the child likes, what they don't like.

Is this going to be a hit? Is it not? Last year we pushed berry parfaits. As as our samples also, we meet with student advisory. Those are all high school students. Teacher advisory, parent advisory, e l t, team leadership, team principals, all of those advisory councils we met with and we serve the new items.

We actually have. I think we're going to be feeding the school board in September, new items that we are preparing for the spring. So it does include a wide range of stakeholders. And city council. And city council, yes.

Pepper Roussel: Wonderful. Yeah, I am looking at the answer to the question of what happens if a kid can't eat whatever's on the menu. And you do have religious and specific or medical diets. Is that something that a parent signs up for? Is that something that a kid goes and tells you they just can't eat a thing?

How does that work?

Dr Nadine Mann: They do sign up for it. There is a form that is provided. All the cafeteria managers have those and we've shared that out with the principals and their principal packet that went out before the school year began. So they have access to it, and then if it's a medical diet, they need to get that signed by a physician or a pa.

Then that is turned into the manager. We have the dietician who modifies the diet according to what the student needs and what we purchase. It's not like we can go out and buy, things specific for that child, but we do modify it within what we have to offer and that. That has worked very well for us.

Pepper Roussel: So I've got a question. Where does, when you purchase, are you purchasing from large distributors? Are you purchasing from small farms? Is this something that's local? If you can't just go out, so I'm expecting you're not running to Rouse's or a Mathern's and picking stuff up and bringing it back. But where does the food come from?

Dr Nadine Mann: We have a bid system that you know, for the different products. Like the milk is bid once a year. Then we have our dry food products and we have our frozen food products. There's a bid process. We do have vendors like a Sands and S and W who provide because they have to be able to deliver to 55 60 sites each week or each month.

And for instance, the milk vendor has to deliver daily to make our fresh milk available for the students. It's a big system. Local farms have the option, but we don't really have any one of the problems is that we're a big system. So to have like 50, 000 servings of say sweet potatoes or something, the best avenue for the small farmers is to go through one of our vendors like Capital City Produce, who has the food trucks to distribute out to our sites.

Large national vendors can bid. They usually don't, but they do have the option to do that.

Pepper Roussel: Thank you. And so there's a comment in the chat about the forms going out to community groups and I wanna ask the question. Going out to what groups? I'm sorry. Community groups. Do y'all send your forms or work partner with community groups in order to get forms to community to sign up for things after school programs etcetera or is it just a matter of going through school?

If you've got a kid, a child at the school, then it's made available.

Dr Nadine Mann: The after school program at our sites has to be signed off by the principal because you have maybe boys and girls club, you have different groups that are going on to campus. So that principal has to be aware of it. And the group usually approaches the principal about, we want to have this, I don't know, Spanish club or, whatever it is, tutoring programs often, or maybe it's a volleyball practice or softball or track or something that they have going on campus.

So that coordinator of the program would talk to the principal. Principal's aware of all these forms. So then they're presented to the cafeteria manager to prepare the meals and it goes through that route. It's very simple form. We just need to know how many kids we have to have their names because it's an accountability check sheet.

So we don't have random people coming onto campus, but it's an organized, it's foreign organized program on campus.

Pepper Roussel: Awesome. Staying in the In this vein, does the district encourage its large partners to work with local food providers?

Dr Nadine Mann: Yes we have, we're reaching out. As a matter of fact, we had a meeting yesterday with our food providers and the fair share coordinator was there. And also the reach out to farms.

James is doing some work with the farm to school. So we're trying to get more local farmers in to bid with us again. It's usually the distribution end of it. If they've got the product, how do they get it then into our schools? So it's a hurdle to work through. But yes, we do reach out to those folks.

Pepper Roussel: And we talked a little bit a while ago about how it is that y'all accommodate the special dietary needs. And so there's a question in the chat, is medical documentation required for those who are lactose intolerant?

Dr Nadine Mann: That form needs to be filled out, yes, and signed by a medical professional.

Pepper Roussel: Okay the follow up then becomes...

What about those who may have challenges getting a note from the doctor to say, I just can't drink milk because it that doesn't work well with my diet. Or with my system, right? So it seems prohibitive for so many people given the prevalent statistics of lactose intolerance and lack of access to primary medical care in Baton Rouge communities.

Is there any way to work around that?

Dr Nadine Mann: We have nurses that are at most of our campuses or a nurse is shared between two campuses. They may not be housed at one. So if a parent is struggling with that, they could reach out to the principal to say, I need to talk to the school nurse and go that route so the school nurse could actually sign off on it.

Pepper Roussel: Okay. That sounds good. What, and so there earlier question about the forms and community groups it makes me wonder do we have, are the forms offered in any language other than English?

Dr Nadine Mann: Our menus are offered. The forms themselves. If there was a need that someone said, the principal recognized, okay, we've got a language barrier here.

We can get someone to interpret those, but we don't have them per se in a variety of languages, but we could get some help. We just need to know about it. And that would be going through the principal, the school principal.

Pepper Roussel: Very good. Thank you very much. And I'm looking for. Oh, good. Alfredo, please jump off mute and correct me where I'm wrong.

There's a question in the chat. Do any of the presenters know if there's support in LA for universal free meals and how we can help in the advocacy?

Dr Nadine Mann: I Can respond to that. The community eligibility allows that universal free meals in a school district. Now, this year, the legislature passed that those students, if they're in a parish school system or a charter, that is not on community eligibility and they're doing free lunch applications. that if a child is deemed to be reduced price, the legislature is paying the difference so that even the reduced price students eat free.

I think universal free across the United States is coming. And with the community eligibility, there is talk about raising that threshold or I should say Lowering the threshold so that more districts could come on to the community eligibility program, which means free students, all students eat or receive free meals in that school district.

Pepper Roussel: That's fantastic. So I don't know whether you can speak to this, but the charters create their own school districts, but we're talking about the school districts that are set by EBR is there and they can opt into the food system. for the parish. Do y'all have any idea of how many are working with y'all in order to provide food for their students?

I know that so New Orleans is the only like full charter area but Baton Rouge is increasing in charters. So just curious as to what does that look like in the landscape?

Dr Nadine Mann: Okay. First of all, the charters can also be on community eligibility. I, and I don't know which ones are and which ones are not, but if they are on the national school lunch program, they have that option to, even if they use an outside service provider, they could still opt into the community eligibility.

Now, within East Baton Rouge Parish, we serve CSAL elementary, canceli Completion. Middle and Madison Prep. We serve Inspire Charter Academy and Advantage Charter Academy. So those are the five charters that we service that are also under our community eligibility. So they also receive the free meal program.

Pepper Roussel: All right. We touched on this a little bit, and I just want to double back to it to make sure that we're all because we got a whole lot of stuff going on in the chat about lactose intolerance are alternative milks consistently offered in the at lunch, at breakfast, at whenever there's milk. It is not offered as just an open choice for students.

Dr Nadine Mann: They need to have that medical form, but we have lots of them. Last year we had 400 dietary restrictions that we work with that many students on. So it's very common for a parent to, if there's a problem to let us know. But it is available.

Pepper Roussel: All right. And there's another question about the juvenile justice education system.

So we do have for what it's worth. We do have Children who are incarcerated and they do attend school. So who serves those kids food?

Dr Nadine Mann: We do not. If they're now, if they are showing up in our schools, I'm not aware of that. They're that type of a student. They're just a student as far as I know, but if they are going to a school, provided by the correctional system, they're provided meals through them.

It does not come through EBR unless they are actually in our schools.

Pepper Roussel: Wonderful. I want to ask a question that hasn't popped up yet, but why is this important? Why is it necessary for us? Like, when I was a kid, we had the lunch lady and I mentioned it earlier this week. We also had that pizza with the questionable cheese on top of it that I loved so very much. See, I'm not alone.

And then it went away. And it went away for reasons I don't think everybody knows or understands. I'm not entirely sure. I have a full grasp of it, and now it feels like you're trying to bring the lunch lady back. Now, I have seen lunch lady cartoons, and so possibly that is the reason, but why is this important?

Dr Nadine Mann: Back in 2010 with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, there were changes to the the sodium levels, the fat levels, the sugar levels in the meals in an effort to stave off the problems that we see later in life. So the thought was if you train your kids to eat healthier meals at a younger age.

They're going to develop those healthy habits and be healthier adults. So that's where this is going. And it was really very strenuous at first. So the thought with the lunch ladies bringing those back and with the chefs is to have those healthier meals, but have it be, offer meals that the kids like and will eat.

We don't want to offer healthy food that goes in the garbage, which so often happens. So we're trying to change that mode and revamp it. So we've got healthier food that kids love. So that's where we're going with this and it's important for the longevity of our students for their lives for a healthy lifestyle.

Pepper Roussel: Excellent. The focus thus far has been about the children who are attending elementary school and secondary school. However for those of us who are parents, you also consider your adult children, still to be children who may attend a college, a university, a junior college some sort of a training school.

Is there any way to provide for them? Do we know? And secondarily, there's a I want to say Jon Bel Edwards signed a bill a couple of years ago that provides for what are they called? Food banks at at universities. Do we have any idea of whether those kids are eating? The college and the like LSU and Southern and then the Baton Rouge Community College.

Dr Nadine Mann: That is a whole different system that the EBR school system is not a part of. However, we have kids who leave us, they graduate from our schools and then they go to college. So you're hoping some of those healthy habits follow them into making better choices when they are, a young adult in college.

That is I think something that we don't get into the college side because that's not what we do. So what was your other question about you? There was two there, it was loaded.

Pepper Roussel: Always. There are food banks do you know at colleges, there was a bill that was signed in I can't remember how a couple of years ago by John Bell Edwards.

Do we know if those kids are in danger?

Dr Nadine Mann: Okay, let me talk about what we do in the school system. There are certain elementary schools that have what is called the backpack program. Kids who's and it's determined by the school nurses and the principal. They work with that. But the food bank provides those food on friday afternoon.

They get a backpack that goes home with them and then they bring that backpack. return it on Monday. You know what I'm talking about? Yeah. Okay. Okay. Now we have a program that we're working on and, it's really exciting. It's a food pantry. Joe Burrus is offering this to a site in to pilot in East Baton Rouge Parish school.

So we're talking about a high school with a food pantry has not been decided yet which one the MOU has not been done, but it's coming. There is something that's in the works out there for a type of food pantry at a high school, but It would only be at either one or two schools. So it hasn't been developed yet, but I think it's a really neat idea and I think it would be great to have.

So we're working on that.

Pepper Roussel: Awesome.

So I've got a question in the chat. How much Emily? I might need clarification on this one. How much engagement do you find you have with parents or does that fall to schools and principals?

Emily Chatelain: Just curious. No, it's the child nutrition program. Does any engagement with parents, to try to help that education piece of what are you serving? Why is it healthy? Why is it important for their kids to eat? The school lunch or does that kind of come more from a principal at each school with how they engage parents on like nutrition and eating habits, et cetera.

Dr Nadine Mann: We are with our taste testing that we're doing. That is our main engagement that we're doing with the parents. And that's we've just really started that other than PTO groups. And I think there are some schools that have higher bag lunch meals. And we plan to go and actually do some taste testing maybe at those sites.

Get the parents involved. We had a new site It actually is an old site, but it moved locations. The Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts moved to Kenilworth building. That's their swing space while a new building is built. So for their open house Chef James and went and did a taste testing for those parents.

We had the menus. There was a lot of interaction with the parents. And it was really good because we got to answer some questions. Some of the things that we have talked about today, the parents have questions about and it's it was a very good engagement. So we hope to do more of that.

Pepper Roussel: Beautiful. Alfreda Tillman Bester?

Alfreda Tillman Bester: Good morning, everybody. I first of all, let me just commend you for this program. This is excellent. Thank you Dr. Mann , Miss holiday. I think she said Newman all of you for all of the information that you have provided. As many of I have the privilege of serving as assistant secretary of family Support with the Department of Children and Family Services during the first four years of the John Bell Edwards administration.

And in that responsibility I had responsibility for the SNAP program. As most of SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which means that we were supposed to be supplementing the parents and their, the families and their ability to feed their families. We don't do a really good job of that.

Let me just be clear about that. When we say supplement, we are assuming that the families have so much money that they can contribute towards feeding their families. And they often don't. I love that we're doing all of these things in the school system and after school and in community organizations to try and Put a stop gap there to help families not be hungry.

But all of our efforts, we really do know how to do this, but we won't because there's no political will to do it. And I just encourage all of us, I, I know, like I said, the innovation and all of the efforts to try and augment what is. the basic foundation would just snap. It's just not enough.

And families are suffering because we have this need in our society to control and overregulate poor families. Where if we would give them a minimum, let's not put all of the restrictions that we put. On poor people in terms of, I'm going to give you this much money. This is for your food.

I'm going to give you this much money. This is for your housing or whatever poor people are capable of managing. I know I was a poor person. So I just I love the innovation, but there is a public policy issue. Here, just like most of the things that we are doing to try and bridge these gaps in poverty, we know how to do it and it shouldn't be so difficult for families to have to get to where the food.

is not just with the schools, but also, the after school programs and all of those things because we're still talking about the social determinants of health where they can't, they don't have transportation to get to these places again. I commend all of you for what you're doing because you're working within the system that we have and trying to assure that families are not hungry, but we can do a lot better.

Dr Nadine Mann: Could I'd like to also mention kind of piggyback on what was just said that we have a huge summer meals program that takes place at the schools for the kids in some type of a program there at the school. Then we have, we take our van and it's called lunch on the go and they're going to housing authorities BREC parks and the libraries.

And that was has been immensely successful. And with those, we're doing about 8000 meals a day. That's a breakfast and lunch together come combined. Even during the summer when we're not in regular school, we're doing some things to feed the kids while they're off during the summer.

Pepper Roussel: Fantastic. So there's a question in the chat. Given that pilot of a food pantry at high school, Is there any work to connect families to WIC, predetermined qualification for children in Title I school districts? Alfredo, if you want to come off mute and smooth that out for me.

Nope, Alfredo's still on mute. The food pantries in high schools?

Alfredo Cruz: This is Alfredo. Sorry, can you hear me? Can you hear me now?

Yeah, I was just wondering if there's any coordination with DCF to ensure that those kids this is their main meal. Could get their families could get pre qualified for given that, there's a food shortage in their house.

Dr Nadine Mann: The school system, the child nutrition program does not do any work with WIC .

Alfredo Cruz: I understand that I'm talking more about coordination with other agencies outside of your paradigm, right? Outside of your district. But I'm talking about agency collaboration to serve the whole family.

Alfreda Tillman Bester: Alfredo WIC is actually administered by the Department of Health, where the SNAP program, which is related, but WIC is more related to taking care, assuring that the children have the nutritional support that they need at the at birth and for the mothers who are pregnant, that they have what they need to affect a healthy birth so that those programs are disjointed. It used to be within the department of what was social services at that time, but now it what was. when the Department of Children Family Services was combined with the Department of Health. But yeah, so there does need to be better coordination because there are things that fall through the cracks and we can't afford to let our Children fall through the cracks.

I know that's what you're saying. Am I right?

Alfredo Cruz: Yeah, I'm just trying to understand if there's been any coordination in the past for those things to connect. And thanks for clarifying that. I wasn't sure how it was structured here. This is my my ignorance about Louisiana coming out because I'm from Florida.

But this is I think in an issue we need to look at more because we know the conditions in which Children are living, that's what we're feeding them. And so we really need to take care of that continuity of nutrition at the home by ensuring that we can qualify those families for, that the food services they should be able to access, especially for formula.

Alfreda Tillman Bester: Y'all know, I just got my first grand baby, so I was all about it. And when they came home, of course, Poppy and I made sure that the formula was here. That formula is 45 a can. Y'all 45. And here, I'm just, middle class kind of person. I was like, what 45 are you serious right now? And so families cannot afford it.

Y'all, they cannot. So I need to get a part time job. The next time my grandson is coming home.

Pepper Roussel: I'm just going to say that's an encouragement for all of us to chip in and give pumps to every new mama because breast, I'm just going to say it. Yeah, it's the baby's first food is breast milk or could be.

Alfreda Tillman Bester: I won't say you're absolutely right Pepper, but we also have to make room for the fact that some moms have difficulty, especially if they have had a complicated birth. They have difficulty making the milk, but we need to make sure that our babies are fed.

Pepper Roussel: That's right. So that's why I said only could be.

It could be. And so there as we are talking about nutrition and health, there's a question in the chat. What for chefs I'm going to so here you go. What is the implication of using the words healthy and nutritious interchangeably?

Oh, now you don't know me. No. Come on off mute. Who me or the question to the audience. No. I'm asking our chefs who will likely have a better answer. Or Dr. Mann.

Dr Nadine Mann: I would say, healthy and nutritious, I use those things, those words interchangeably. Sometimes when you use those words with kids they're, it's they're not as excited about them.

We try and make things healthy for kids and maybe not use that word per se out there. When you're describing a menu item, but you make it healthy in the background and it's healthy. Because it looks appealing. It smells good. We eat with our eyes. It looks good. So that's the first thing.

So you make it, you do this in the background. So the kids have what is healthy for them.

Manny Patole: So my purpose in asking this is a policy question, but also a subjective prescriptive question, right? Is that if you say healthy and nutritious or interchangeable are black and white interchangeable, right?

They're both colors. They both they both, but they evoke different things, right? They're different words for different, for a reason. And when we're looking at this if you're thinking about nutritious you can put everything in a smooth, in a drink and we have Soylent Green, right?

For those of you who are over a certain age, you know what I'm talking about. Or, 1984 proponents. But but yeah the idea is and this is, You know a very more esoteric conversation, but when you're constantly telling people they should eat something nutritious versus healthy And you're understanding that I still don't like kale.

I'm you know, I was like, I know it's healthy for me, but I Don't care how you're preparing it. I'll have my collards, but no kale But the thing is when you're talking about kids regardless of where they're from or what they're doing If you're a mother of if you're talking about what you know Professor Bester's situation.

You have two kids and you have 20 bucks, right? This is an exercise to do with students. How are you going to feed your kids for a week? I understand it's a huge task for anyone, let alone the populations we're talking about. But and this is a constant conversation, it's never going to go away, but it is about when you're trying to be prescriptive about things without being, socially conscious, culturally aware and financially understanding of the person's situation.

It's easy to say, hey, you need to eat healthy and nutritiously, but then there's another thing to say, okay, outside the school, what else is going to happen if they can't get there?

Pepper Roussel: So that brings me to I think a natural segue to cafe. Earlier this week, we had the in person meeting for the Capital Area Food Equity Coalition and developed the moral outrage committee to address the address, indeed, to address issues around food insecurity and the lack of outrage for folks being hungry, for folks not ever being in a position where they have enough time and money simultaneously.

So if you want to be involved in that, please let me know. My email address, I think all have it pepper at the walls project. org anyways. Ooh, we are in the professor corner and we defined a word healthy as pertaining to a characteristic of food health as opposed to a good health, excuse me, as opposed to nutritional as the active process of nourishing or being nourished.

Also applause to everyone. Every school that joins and stays with the school garden initiatives. Those were absolutely the thing that came post Katrina. They were huge, exciting. They were new. They were now. They were wow. And then they became old and off and dead. So all of the schools who are participating in those who not only expose Children and adults for all practical purposes to new and interesting foods so much the better if they are locally grown and culturally appropriate.

Yes, many. I'm not representing walls, the one rouge or any other group with whom I may work. Decolonize your plates. Kale ain't the only green thing. Anything it was that you grew up eating is appropriate for you to eat. Kale is a an eastern kind of thing and every time god knows every time we as Americans get a hold of something, we eat it to death and have a tendency to eat it from all those folks that see quinoa to eat it from all the folks that it is culturally appropriate who are gardens are a lot of work. Yeah, they are. Who doesn't love fresh tomato sandwiches like out of the carton? Oh I guess If you actually like tomatoes, I suppose I should have qualified that anyways. Yeah, man, tomatoes, mayo, the pepper. Is this is this a good time to transition to community announcements before?

I was just about to do that because I'm all in the food situation. Yes. Thank you. Thank you to our speakers for today. Yeah. And I said that was that was incredibly enlightening. Dr. Mann, Chef Maria, Chef James. I appreciate you all very much for being here in this space. And thank you for everybody in the chat today.

Casey Phillips: Heck yeah. Pepper, what you got on the community announcement front? Besides tomatoes. Tomatoes.

Pepper Roussel: Wow. I am scrolling up looking for... Right snickers. I'm scrolling up looking for there are a couple of announcements. I got dropped into the chat, but until I can get to them, please let me know what is going on this weekend in Baton Rouge Reverend Anderson.

Rev. Alexis Anderson: Good morning. This was the most fun conversation ever two things one is that on Saturday. At the river center library, my beloved library, we are having the, I need housing community town hall from 10 30 to 2 30. Our incredible professor Manny will be opening us up. Dot a sissy, which if you've never heard dot a story, he will be our luncheon speaker.

And sometimes when we talk about the issues around needing housing, we don't even begin to know people's stories. And so he will be our luncheon speaking speaker. Addie Duvall will help us center with the data. So the goal is data storytelling and asset mapping that we will have partners at the table to talk about how do we get some solutions. It doesn't have to be every solution. And we're going to be talking about the hardest populations, not the ones everybody jumps on. The ones in many cases, nobody wants to work with and so it's an exciting afternoon. You can show up at the library on Saturday, go to the fourth floor and you're welcome.

You can go on our Facebook page, preacher's Facebook page or the coalition's Facebook page. I think you can also go to be our proud. The information will be on there as well. But it is going to be an exciting conversation because it's going to be centered by the people most impacted. And I want to follow that up with just something very quickly, because it was so impactful.

Last night, the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition had a presentation on the impact of an arrest on housing. I recommend everybody to see that video. You will be shocked at who gets impacted because it's not always the person who gets arrested. And southeast Louisiana legal services did an amazing job.

Dr. Bell did an amazing job, but we have a bigger housing crisis than everybody thinks, and much of it is going to be solved by all of us, not some of us. So I just invite everybody, if you have a chance show up on Saturday. If you don't have a chance to do that, at least go to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition's Facebook page, EBRPPRC, and view that, that video from last night.

There's a lot of work to be done, but everybody needs to be part of it. Thank you, ma'am.

Pepper Roussel: Alright, so we've got Libraries Community Survey in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Mary Stein, you want to share a little bit more about that?

Mary Stein: Yes. We planned far out into the world. So we're planning for the next 10, 12, 15 years.

And right now we have launched a community survey about our facilities. Think about a library location. It's like a big piece of equipment that allows us to provide services and resources. To the public and space itself is a service but these buildings, we don't get to build a new one every year and they take a lot of planning because as we're pay as you go.

So we save, and then we go through the public process and then we build. So we're trying to get ready for the next 12 years. This is step zero. And for that, we need your input about what you think every kind of branch needs to have. Do we need more of them? Do we need less of them?

Do they need to offer different services, resources, whatever? Do they all need something as simple as like I want to do something very concrete. I want to turn all the water fountains into bottle fillers. There's a real cost to that, y'all. The EV parking lot chargers, the bike repair stations, more meeting rooms, whatever it is.

Whether it's something really small like a bottle filler that adds up or something huge like I need a business center in North Baton Rouge. We need that from you so that we can then craft what will be our 2025. Millage campaign, because it all goes back to the dollars and predicting the dollars out over the next 10 years.

So we already have 1, 800 people have responded, most to the English, but we do have the QR code for the Spanish survey. And the Vietnamese was too difficult to put on SurveyMonkey. I don't know why. But we have that one in. Paper form, and we also make paper forms for the Spanish, and we've even, we'll print out a paper form for English for those who don't want to use computers.

It's not a very long survey. It's been minutes and you're done, but we really need this information because as we're not the boss of us, and we have to go through many layers of stakeholders and policy makers before we can get to the voters. Thank you much.

Pepper Roussel: While we're on the library dr Reverend Anderson, is there a need to register for tomorrow's event?

Rev. Alexis Anderson: Sorry, it would be very helpful for food purposes. So you don't have to. But how can I say this? The ones that are registered? No, I was gonna say the ones that are registered get fed first. No, it would be helpful for food purposes. I think that's exactly the way to say it.

Helena Williams: . So I just put it in the chat.

I'll put in chat once more, but the futures fund is today's the last day for the applications for the website. We did redesign for nonprofits and small businesses. So please get your application in by today. And also just another shout out for the library futures fund is partnering with the library to bring workshops out in September and October.

Just stay tuned for those dates coming up. Gorgeous.

Casey Phillips: There's also the Black Business Block Party at the King Library. Yes. Okay. Yes. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow. And everyone has said please go out and support. This is one of the brainchilds of Myra Richardson a One Roots Leadership Council member, and I believe last year's was the... the first one. But I said Myra has the tendency to amplify and blow it out. So whatever it was last year, most likely will be a very small shadow of what this year's will be. So everybody show up show up around five o'clock and believe it begins and runs till eight. And it is, it's important to support not only our black businesses in the city, but our young creative leaders like Myra who are doing things just to make the city better, not for any other reason.

So show up to the main library tomorrow as the sun begins to set and it's incredible event.

Pepper Roussel: Thank you very much. And it's free. Free events. Free events. Reverend Anderson.

Rev. Alexis Anderson: I'm again. This is our library rocks day. I'm just going to ask Mary Stein to talk about the career center and the event they're having for Exxon Mobil that had over 250 people that showed up and so they're doing another one.

Go ahead Mary.

Mary Stein: Yeah, we're going to do another one on Thursday, August 31st in the evening. That way, people who are already employed will have a chance to come and see What it takes to get on at Exxon to be an Exxon operator or the other kinds of things that they have. And there have been some other small things.

There's also the Career Center you can get to the Career Center through the library's website, ebrpl. com. And the Career Center even has its own YouTube channel. And they've put out some little YouTube little small things on how to get on with this, how to get on with that. I encourage people to...

Sample those kinds of things. And of course, in person we started with one person working half time a couple days a week. And now there are six people, maybe seven, working six days a week helping people with everything from the resumes, the letters, coaching them, helping them figure out what it is they want to do with their life, how to make a transition they'll do workshops out, people come in they're phenomenal, great impact museum. Gorgeous.

Pepper Roussel: The bakery is having a broad bakery broadband is having a happy hour. August 23rd at Mid City Beer Garden. Tis the first time the entire team will be in Baton Rouge. Come out and see it happen. What else we have? I need housing, community, town hall. Can we just talk about it?

And the rest are here in, oh, here we go. Community Leadership Summit 2023 transformation now. Thank you. Leadership's commitment to strategically advance the capital city is going to be September the 7th. at BRCC's Mid City Campus in the Magnolia Theater. There is also the Community Town Hall on Youth Justice, Saturday, August 26th, not this Saturday, but next.

And thank y'all for being here. You know how much I appreciate you spending your, you know how much I appreciate you spending your Fridays with me Friday mornings. We will be here next week, same bat time, same bat channel. And last note in the chat. Elections matter. Thank you for all of for our guests for being here this morning.

Thank you so very much for all the information that you shared. Please make sure that if the good food purchasing policy means anything to you. That you support it. Maybe send in a letter of support and if you know anybody who's got kids in the public school system, please make sure that they are not only getting but planning around the cafeteria.

quote schedule as well as providing any additional supplementary ancillary information that would be necessary to ensure that the kids have a great year and are eating good in the neighborhood. And we're hiring. We're hiring. We're hiring people. Child nutrition employee. We're hiring people. Yes and so there are two links in the chat from earlier this morning.

Please you'll get it in the notes but yes they are hiring people and so is one Rouge hiring a person in To be the end to my yang, the pepper, the peanuts butter to my pepper jelly. We decided last week it will be mango.

Casey Phillips: Pepper. It has been it has been an interesting journey following your brain today.

I will speak for everyone on here. It's just it's flavorful. It's mango. It's tomato and we appreciate you so much and it's been great having you in town for this week and thank you for helping lead one route into the future.

Pepper Roussel: Of course. Of course. Also, bakery is looking to hire two installers and a technical lead.

Alright, there we go. Oh, thanks. Thank you. Chef James for dropping that at the track back in the chat. If if you don't have a handy, there it is. Thank you all again. Appreciate you being here and we'll see you all next week. Thank you.


Community Announcements

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