Interviewees: Bernice Clark, Mary Thompson, Betty Werner, Jean Watts, Joan Bickley, Gertice Rister, Pauline Ballentine, Lova Jean Bullman, Pat Holstein, Susan Cassels, and Marcella Clark
Interviewers: Virginia Webb and Meredith Johnston
Date: September 21, 2004 at Ballentine Elementary School in Columbia, S.C.
Bernice Clark: Good morning. I’m Bernice Clark, Clarendon School District I. I’ve been in school food service since 1978. We have three schools with approximately 1,100 students. And over the years I’ve seen tremendous change in school food service, especially diets and requirements.
Mary Thompson: My name is Mary Thompson. I’m from Lancaster County, S.C., and I’m the food service director there. We have 18 schools and a charter school and an alternative school. And I’ve been in school food service since 1979. I was with the district before that. When I first started we had a satellite system that shipped to four schools, but that wasn’t very good so we’ve gone back to all site-based kitchens now. And we have over 11,000 students.
Betty Werner: I’m Betty Werner and I live in Lexington District Five. I’ve been at Irmo High School for 30 years and I’ve just retired. This has been my third director for all that time [points to Jean Watts on her immediate left]. We started out with almost 2,500 students and now we’re down to I think 1,900. But I’ve found, and I have to say this, I’ve found the boys to be the most appreciative of everything you do, especially the football players. I guess maybe they were always so hungry and everything was good. But I did find them to be very cordial. Now the girls were a little bit [makes fluttering motions with hands] but you know. But I thought the boys were very generous in their complements, very appreciative. And I appreciated that because that made you feel good. And I find that it’s very rewarding. Jeanie and I did a lot of outside activities, many, many, many, many luncheons, dinners, and receptions. I found that to be appealing. In thirty years you do a lot. I liked it. I love the kids, like the school, especially my director. She was the greatest.
Jean Watts: Well, I’m Jean Watts, and I’m newly retired and I have a cold. So I don’t know how well my voice is going to sound. I have been retired now going on two years from Lexington School District Five. I started in 1973 as a manager at Irmo High School. And in 1983 we started seeing changes take place in the school food service operation. At that time when I was at Irmo High School for nine years – at that time we did all our bookwork, all our buying, the menu, everything, and we even paid our bills. So it came time to consolidate and get centralized in 1981. We decided to keep everything in one place. To keep the book keeping in one place, the buying in one place, and have the menus made in one place, etc… So with lots of training from the state department I went to Winthrop, where I met several of these ladies here for nutrition training. I came to the district office to coordinate everything, to get us all together. We had twelve schools then, and we had eighteen when I retired two years ago. These ladies to my left, this one was in our district office [puts arm around Joann Bickley to her immediate left]. She did our bookkeeping for us and I’ll let her tell you what she did before she went to district office, which will add to what I just said. And these two ladies were managers for 30 some years [points to ladies to her immediate right and second from her left]. And I don’t won’t to steal their stories, but I want to tell you, they were very dedicated women. They did a fabulous job, and as you said, they loved their jobs. It showed in their everyday participation from their students and their workers.
Joann Bickley: My name’s Joann Bickley and I guess I can go way, way back in school food service because the summer that I left Newberry College I took a two-year business course and for the summer back in the 1950s – I’m really telling my age now – I worked in the office of the state department under, you may remember the name, Mr. Garrison, and Ms. Gaston, they were in the office and I worked there one summer. So little did I know that on down the road I would get back in food services. So I left that job and went to work for Columbia City Schools as secretary to the coordinator of instruction and then the assistant superintendent, and then well I had a family. My son was born and two and a half years later I had a baby girl and I thought, “Well, I don’t ever plan to go back to work.” So when my son was in third grade and my daughter was just starting school I got a phone call from the Lexington Five, one of the principals, and he said, “Joann, I know you used to work in the schools and we need help.” He said his secretary was just overloaded and they really needed some help. So I started out working part-time and I worked the first year I was working in two schools in the district. Well, I won’t take too long to tell all of this but over the years it worked up to eight different schools. I was traveling around – I would split my day between two schools of course, some days, because there’s only five days in the week. And I was going to eight schools, but I was keeping a separate set of books for each school and working up the financial reports and sending them in to the state department and that kind of thing, and as Jean said then, I couldn’t remember what year it was, I was thinking it was 1981. Was it then? [asks Jean Watts] I was thinking it was a couple years after that. I got a phone call at the end of the summer. I had just set up my books for each school. I was all ready to go for the year. I got a call from the district office and he said, “The school board has decided we will consolidate all the food service accounts into one account, and Joann, you will be coming to the district office to work. You’ll be basically doing the same type thing except everything will be consolidated.” So that’s how I got to the district office, and I worked with Jean there, and I worked, I can’t remember how many years now, but doing reports and financial matters and that kind of thing and really enjoyed it. I just loved all the people in the schools and I missed traveling around to the schools like I had done prior to that and didn’t get to see the managers and secretaries and principals as much, but I did get to go out some. And then I was able to go to the conventions at the state, and we even went to San Francisco. We were just reminiscing about that. We went to San Francisco to the conference there one year. That had to of been back in the 80s I think, maybe toward the end of the 80s or early 90s. But I just really enjoyed all my time in food service and have been retired now for quite a while.
Gert Rister: I’m Gert Rister and I live in Chapin and I work at Chapin Middle School and High School. Chapin Middle School and High School were together for a long time. Then they separated from the high school, and then they built another elementary school. Well, I went down there. Well, they got me as manager there. I wasn’t manager for a long time, but they asked me to be a manager there, and I told her I’d do my best. So I went down to Chapin Middle School, the new school. I worked down there for a long time, with different people. And Jean Watts was the supervisor at that time, and I remember Joann. We had a good time that time. Then I went to Chapin Middle School and was manager there. So I retired in ’97. So I enjoyed working with people. Going to Myrtle Beach, I enjoyed that. I enjoyed it very much with the people.
Pauline Ballentine: I’m Pauline Ballentine. I live on James Ballentine Road, close to here. And I had a big family, enjoyed children, and I just started to working, volunteering, at this school for about a year, and the next thing I knew I was working a permanent job, and then before I turned around good the superintendents of one of the schools asked me to be a manager. I didn’t know how to begin, but my husband was living then and he encouraged me to go ahead with it. And I loved it. I loved working with the children, and at that time the elementary grades would meet at the district office and make our own menus, and we thought that was wonderful, but then Jane started with her work at the district office and that relieved us. We did our own buying and everything for a long time, but she did a wonderful job with it. And I worked for about 14 ½ years. I retired in the early 80s, but I loved every bit of it. I still see children that will walk up and say, “Oh, you fed me so much and we enjoyed it so much to come through the line.” So that’s my work. I really enjoyed it.
Bullman: I’m Lova Jean Bullman, Dorchester School District II, down in Sommerville. I started out in school food service as a substitute. I became a manager; I became a regular worker and then my husband decided he wanted to open a hardware store. We did that, and they called and asked me if I’d come back to the school district and work as a manager at the school, and I left him that day at the hardware store. I worked for twenty-six years. I became a manager and then I became director of school food service for the district – saw a lot of changes during that time; also served two terms as president of the South Carolina School Food Service Association. And when I talk about changes I think about when we first implemented Offer vs. Serve. What a wonderful thing that was for the program, because it saved us so much money. We didn’t see all that food going into the trash cans. We were able to save a lot of money. When we were able to put in salad bars – I remember we put the first salad bar into the schools. And then when I became director and became president the program was threatened by block grants, and there was a terrible fear that we were going to lose the program and what it stood for. As I said, I saw a lot of changes and some of them were good and some were not good. The bottom line is that we were there to serve the children. And the child never changes; they’re always those sweet who come through the serving line that we serve everyday. I sit here today and I think about fifteen years ago today I was setting up shelters for Hurricane Hugo that hit our part of the state. I was listening as we were coming up and for three weeks we were without electricity and for three weeks we became an integral part of the community, even though the Red Cross said we fell under the umbrella of the Red Cross, but you know anyone that’s ever opened up a shelter, it’s school food service who runs those shelters. So we opened shelters and we fed the community. And I even brought pictures that we fed the troops. The troops were in town to make sure that the curfew was enforced and what have you. We are really a part of the school district, but we also serve the community we live in and the people there. There comes a time when we have to put on that hat. So I think one of things that I saw is that being in school food service, whether you are a food service technician or whether you’re director, you wear a lot of hats. You serve children and you’re there to serve the children, but there comes a time when you serve everyone in that community you live in.
Pat Holstein: I’m Pat Holstein and for twenty years I was food service director in Lexington School District III. I had no experience with food service. I had worked through Clemson Extension for a few years, but none with food service. I didn’t even know what a #10 can was. When the managers started talking about #10 cans I said, “What’s that?” But I had a boss who thought that I needed to get into specking out my food and starting in the bidding, and that was fairly new then. Well, you know, I didn’t have any more sense than to try it, but I had four or five people like Jean Watts and others in the Lexington district. So we got together and made ourselves specs and used them for a long time. We sent them off to everybody, and everybody used those specs for a while [laughs]. One of the things I think I enjoyed most about food service is I was a part of the community. I lived in that community. So if something happened at school and I went to the grocery store that afternoon, watch it! You were going to run into Mom and hear about it. But I had griped so about commodities, about these huge amounts of commodities that we got, they were in huge bulk things, that Mr. Aycock Ramon from the state department called me one summer, because I didn’t work in the summer, and he said, “Pat, I’ve heard you gripe and gripe. You want to be in this program called CLOC?” I said, “I’ll do anything. Yeah, I’ll do it.” And before I know it he and Marcy and I are going to Atlanta wasn’t it Marcy, with Ms. Plair, my boss, and we’re finding out what we’re getting into, because that was through USDA. Well, this was in the probably early 80s. Ended up I was the letter of credit. We had three different things – letter of credit, cash, and just keeping plain old records. Well, it was a really interesting thing. I finally in 1994, I think it was, had to go and give a speech before the Agricultural Committee. And I get a call and they said, “You know, everybody’s retired except you Pat. You’re gonna have to go give this speech.” And I said, “Do what?” And they said, “Well you have to write it, [laughs] and they have to approve it, and you have to go to Washington and do it.” And this was when Ellen Haas, don’t know if ya’ll are familiar with that lady, was in true form. She was like, well with the USDA. Sorry you can take that out. [laughs along with others in room]
Virginia Webb: She was Under Secretary.
Holstein: That’s right. You can edit that. Yeah, where is she now? [Asks Virginia Webb]
Webb: She works for some public policy group in Washington.
Holstein: Good place for her. But anyhow, I go to testify by myself and here she comes in with her four or five people – marches in – [gestures with hands to imitate marching] and she gives her little spill and I give mine. And they say, “Any questions?” And they say, “Yes, Ms. Holstein we have some questions for you.” And I’m thinking, “Oh, Lord uh-uh.” So the man asking the questions is from Texas. He’s a congressman [Congressman Stenholm from Texas] and he said, “I want to ask you a few questions.” And I said, “Fine, go ahead.” He said he had been an Ag. teacher in his other life and he had been the one who had to go meet those box cars and get those big tons of stuff out. And he said, “I know what you’re talking about, but I don’t know if we can go along with this program.” And he said, “You can’t buy as cheaply as USDA can.” I said, “Man, I do it every day. I don’t know why you think I can’t, and I can get it in a form that’s more usable.” Well, you know, I got grandfathered in because of my little speech I guess, and all of us did. Uh, but the thing it really did was make the USDA go out and process some of that food before we got it, put it in smaller units. But that was one of the things that I enjoyed. I enjoyed having little food shows for the kids and letting them try new products. I would do it with, again Lexington County, we would all get together at my school and we would have food shows the day after school was out. And we had this thing, the kids could come, but we had picked the kids that would participate, you know, and who had a mother that was around [laughs]. And we had them try these products and say, ” I like it, I don’t like it,” or whatever. But they had to fill out this book, and we compiled it and let everybody know what was in it. So that was one thing – I enjoyed doing that. I had three children in school myself, one in high school, one in second grade, and one in middle school, so you know I heard everything that was bad about the lunch program. “Mama, why do you do this?” “Why do you do that?” Now then the very one’s say, “Do you think you could get me some of those cinnamon rolls?” But my mother had been in food service. She had been a cafeteria manager. And it really went a long way. Susan [points to Susan Cassels seated to Holstein’s immediate left]is now in my old job and straightening out all the bad things I did, but we did bring some stuff. Another thing I have done that I think you might like to hear about is SIFT that we do in the summer. This is through our state department, through school food service, the association, and we teach at several places around the state. I’ve done that for several years. Lova Jean has, Jean has, [nods to Lova Jean Bullman and Jean Watts, to Holstein’s far right] a bunch of us have. We teach the operators and managers and usually it’s some nutrition, a little bit of everything. But it’s a program started years ago with a grant the state department used and we sort of picked it up and continued on with it. But it’s been, it was an exciting time – a time I enjoyed. We did a lot of stuff in the communities. As Lova Jean said, they didn’t think a thing about saying “Will you do a football banquet for me?” I felt like I had to be there because I was in charge. And we did one once and used an ice sculpture, one of those where you just pour the water in, and so it was a swan, I’ll never forget, and his neck didn’t look real pretty – had to put a bow around it- and we put it on the dessert table. Every kid that came past it had to feel it to see if it was real when no one was looking. But it was a lot of fun doing some of this. And Susan’s kept me informed about what’s going on, so it was a good twenty years.
Susan Cassels: Okay, I’m Susan Cassels and I am the new Pat Holstein for Lexington School District III. But the funny part was, we started work at the same time. Pat just got wise and retired and I’m still working [both Holstein and Cassels laugh]. The thing I remember most about child nutrition before I went into this was the food. I remember I went to a rural school out in the country and they had the best vegetable beef soup you’ve ever tasted. They put macaroni in it, and I remember the commodities. They used to send us black olives. And black olives back then no one had ever seen nor heard of, but I was Mikey and they found out that I would eat anything. And they fed me all the black olives when I was at elementary school. I didn’t like meat and they would buy like chicken breasts for the teachers and one of the teachers would give me her chicken breast because I might eat it. But then the other children would start talking about animals and chickens and they’d usually get the chicken breast away from me and I’d give it away because I’d think about it. But it was the best food I ever had. And back then you went back and got seconds and thirds until all the food ran out. I mean it was home cooking and our neighbors were doing that food service program. I remember when the manager would quit they’d go out in the community and find somebody that was a good cook and they became our manager in that little rural school that probably didn’t have 125 kids in it. And I remember the extra milk program when they’d bring it to the classroom everyday and we’d get our extra milk and we actually – there were students that didn’t have money to pay – so they cleaned up the cafeteria instead of paying for their meal, which was like a dollar a week. And we girls, we didn’t have anything to do after lunch anyway, so we’d go out and we’d beg these little guys to let us clean up the cafeteria, and they wanted to go play baseball. So we had a great deal there. We loved to clean up the cafeteria and they got to go play baseball. So that was kind of a unique thing about child nutrition – my first memory of it. As far as going to work with this program, had no idea what it was. I worked, like Pat, with Clemson Extension. Wanted to move closer home. I was down next to the coast and I wanted to move back up to the upstate. And the superintendent interviewed me for a job and he told me, he said, there were two people, and one of them already worked in the district and he said, “If she wants the Home Economics job you get the food service job. If she wants the food service job, you get the Home Economics job.” And that is how I started out in this program. [laughs] I didn’t know what the food service job was but I said, “Okay, I’ll take it,” because she wanted the Home Economics job. And it was a learning experience and the thing I remember most about it is we had so many opportunities to learn about the program and we had trainings on food specs. We had trainings on anything to do with child nutrition, more so I think than we do now, and we were so lucky because we had good backgrounds. We were given the opportunity to learn things that the food service directors and supervisors don’t have today and he gave us a good foundation. There were a lot of us that started at the same point in time and we networked with each other. We found out who the Lucille Barnetts were in the upstate, she was our little mama, she took care of us. She’d call up and say, “Honey, what’s going on down there in Union?” and she helped us and I think we had more of that back then than we do today. And that gave us a really good background to do what we did. I was in Union for twenty-three years before I took Pat’s job [gestures to Pat Holstein at Cassels’ immediate right] and that’s what I was released for and it was a time we went through, as you say, the Offer vs. Serve, which was a great thing. We started having choices on our menus, we started breakfast programs, and breakfast programs were actually mandated by our state legislature. And I remember the principal saying, “It won’t work.” We had the programs in the elementary schools but not in the high schools for breakfast and they told us, “Yhey will not eat breakfast. There’s no way.” And I found some records that Pat kept the other day [gestures toward Pat Holstein] where it showed that when they started breakfast there were maybe 75 or 80, but within a year they had over 160 students, so it more than doubled within a year’s time. And it did work and it continues to work. And now we’re in a new era of serving breakfast in the classroom, where everybody’s eating breakfast. So I think that’s one of the most important things of our program is the Breakfast Program. And I think it has come a long way to help our students to be ready to go to the classroom.
Marcella Clark: I’m Marcy Clark. Marcella Clark. Everyone calls me Marcy in the South and I’ve been in the state office of school food service since 1974. So I guess I’ve grown with all of these people. I still feel like I’m probably 30 years old like I was when I started, but I’m not. It’s been a long time ago. And to kind of set the stage, I’d like to say a few things about my first experiences with school lunch. And it was in a little basement cafeteria in northern Minnesota. So I’m not a South Carolinian, but I’m married to one. And I remember specifically from back in those days there was no such thing as being able to get a free or reduced-priced lunch. And from my family I received a dime a day, but lunch was $.20. So I can only say I didn’t have the opportunity to participate like most of our children have today in some form. But I can also empathize with those children who don’t have enough money to buy a meal. Going back through all these years and knowing what it was like then and many people don’t realize that free and reduced price meals were not available until 1970. And many people think its always been that kind of program, but it wasn’t, and in the early program there was just a very small, few cents a meal that was provided to provide meals to children. And I know South Carolina is one of those states that did a lot of things even prior to the National School Lunch Program as we know it in the 1940s. So this is a wonderful place to be if you believe in feeding children. I know over the years that my nickname and the name my son calls me is “Free and reduced.” That’s his favorite slogan for me. I happen to be the reg person in the office and that’s just developed over the years. If you look at the bottom line, it’s not that the regs, it’s not all the program policies and all the things that we do, it basically boils down to the people. And I don’t think you realize that until you’re close to retirement you’re going to be leaving everyone, you find out what is really important in life. And even coming here today it was just wonderful to see people I haven’t seen for a couple of years, and even a few months, because it’s always a delight to be with them and that’s what I think school lunch is all about because I think it takes very special people to provide meals to children and really care about the nutrition and what happens to them. Being in school lunch many times people might ask- if they find out you work for school lunch- many times you might be criticized or they want a – they have maybe some thoughts about what school lunch is all about because of the memories they have with school lunch. So in conversations with people who are outside this circle we have I like to ask them, “What do you remember about school lunch?” And I think my husband gave me one of the best answers I’ve ever had, and one that I like to share. And that is I say, “Roy, what do you really remember about school lunch?” and he comes from South Carolina. South Carolina is his home and he said, “I remember Mrs. Rodens’ peach cobbler.” And I thought this is absolutely wonderful and that’s how I would like to always remember school lunch too. Number one he remembered a person, he remembered someone. And that person was special because all the years he remembered her name. And he remembered a food item. And so if there’s not another memory we’d like to leave behind for school lunch it would be an individual, some special person and some special food.
Webb: It’s real interesting to me sitting here because our next kind of train of thought is we wanted everyone to tell us about their earliest memory of school lunch when they were children.
Bickley: I have a story of my memories of school lunch. Well, I grew up in Little Mountain, South Carolina, which is up in Newberry County, and my grandmother Lee was the manager of my school so I had a special connection to the cafeteria I felt like. And I can just remember in the afternoon she stayed with us a lot and we lived right in front of the school. In fact, I’d go out the back door and I’d be on the school grounds. So I could always wait ’til the last minute to go to school. But in the afternoons, these big ol’, I guess they were USDA trucks, would come rolling in late in the evenings and she would have to go back down and unlock and they would unload cans of stewed tomatoes and I don’t remember what else. I remember that particular item. But I would go with her and watch them unload and stack in the area where they kept the dry goods. But then the cafeteria at our school at that time, it was in the basement of the school, right underneath the gymnasium, and it was so colorful. They had curtains, tablecloths on the tables. I’m pretty sure I’m remembering that right. But oh, that vegetable soup, that was always so good – the vegetable soup, and I’m sure we must have had peanut butter sandwiches. But everything was just so good and I was so proud that my grandmother was in the school as the manager.
Holstein: Did it make you mad when one of your friends said, “Oh I didn’t like that”?
Bickley: You know, I don’t even remember that. It probably would have. [Laughs]
Lova Jean Bullman: You know, I think pizza now is the favorite food for children in school, but as I listen around the table, for all of us the vegetable soup. We all remember the homemade vegetable soup, with the peanut butter sandwich. And you could smell it. It would just drift through the school – the smells from cooking, the aroma. The vegetable soup had to be the favorite of everyone.
Bickley: And the rolls, the rolls. Those rolls had the best aroma. [most all of group nodding in agreement]
Bullman: They didn’t have steam tables. They just put it in a big pot on top of a table. And you sat on homemade wooden – looked like picnic table type things, that our family had.
Holstein: I just remember our soup was greasy. And when I went to work I said, “Ladies, if I see one spec of grease on this soup bowl.” I can’t stand greasy vegetable soup. I guess they didn’t drain the meat. I don’t know. Maybe they thought you needed the grease.
Bickley: Well what did they use? Wasn’t it like hamburger meat? Didn’t they use hamburger meat?
Bullman: We used to use hamburger meat.
Johnston: Anything else?
Cassels: [looking toward Marcy Clark] Lena made the soup? I knew that. Lena made the soup and Ms. Cary was the manager and then Ms. Susan took her job. The thing I remember too about this, it was me, I didn’t like milk either. I was about 49 pounds – I outgrew that – but I was about 49 pounds for about five years there. So they tried to make me eat. And my mom found these chocolate straws, and drink the milk through the chocolate straw and it made chocolate milk. Well guess what? They took it away from me at the child nutrition program. They told me I couldn’t bring those chocolate straws in. [laughs] And they would not let me have my chocolate milk. That’s why I quit drinking milk. That was the way I drank it was through those chocolate straws. That’s one of my bad memories.
Watts: My memory of school lunch goes way back. I hear my brothers and sisters, my older brothers and sisters, talking about when they were in school all they got was – they didn’t have a lunch program, but they brought freeze-dried – raisins, prunes, and occasionally fresh food. And the principal of the school had to go into town and get it in his car and bring it back to the school. And at lunchtime he would hand it out to everybody that wanted it. And of course this meant a lot of tales by my oldest brother about prunes that they gave out and how much he liked them and didn’t know the results of them. [laughter from group] Of course I don’t remember any of that. That was a one-room schoolhouse the way they tell me. My school, my elementary school was – I started in Charleston, South Carolina. It was during the war and they had two sessions of school because everyone had crowed into Charleston to help with the shipyards and the bomb plants et cetera, et cetera. So the schools were overcrowded. And I went to the morning session and the older kids came back later. All we got there was a carton of milk. We carried our lunch and they brought the carton of milk, the cases of milk, to the classroom and we got our milk then to drink with our lunch. Then we moved back to the country. My mother decided she couldn’t raise children in the city. So she moved them back to the country so she could keep her children in check. And I enrolled in an elementary school of I guess about a hundred kids. They had long, long tables in the cafeteria with red and white checked table clothes. And a cloth back where they could wipe off. And I remember the two ladies that cooked for us. I can remember some teachers, but I can vividly remember the two ladies in the cafeteria because of the aroma that came from there and the pretty smiles and the way they treated us when we came in. I learned at an early age what peer pressure was because I loved cabbage but my little friends who were sitting beside me said they were yuck and not good and would hold their nose [holds her nose] when it was put on their plates and I wanted it so bad. But I would not eat it because they would say I was yuck. So now when I see, as things grew and I got into food service, I remembered that so much – that our children would probably eat better if they didn’t have all that peer pressure – “You’re not suppose to eat this and you’re not suppose to eat that.” My little grandson is now in second grade and he told me the other day that his friend ate an “adult sandwich.” And I asked him what an adult sandwich was and he said, “bar-b-que.” [laughter among group] So see, you have predetermined notions about food. You either have a mindset of for it or against it. He didn’t like adult sandwiches. So.
Johnston: Anyone else?
Webb: Any other thoughts?
Thompson: I’m still thinking about the vegetable soup. That was one of our favorite meals too. And we ate lunch every day, even in high school. We ate lunch every day. That was well, the first thing my daddy gave me. On Monday morning he gave me my dollar for lunch and my ice cream money. Ms. Patterson, she was our food service manager, and when I took over as food service director she was still working. So she retired, she worked a long time. But the soup was just something. I love to eat.
Johnston: Anyone else?
Werner: I went to a private [school] and you did not have a cafeteria. You took your bag lunch and the nuns would walk around. Of course that was when they wore their habits, so you knew they meant business. Anyhow, if you had a lunch that was not suitable they would take you to the convent, which was real close to the school, and feed you soup and crackers. To me – I don’t ever forget that – that was something special. But you know, you didn’t have cafeteria lunches and if she saw that you didn’t have a good lunch, you would go over there and have soup and crackers. That happened often. So that’s a big memory for me. Even our high school didn’t – they had a shack you could go down to – you bought a hot dog or crackers or something. So I never had the experience of a cafeteria. So that was something new to me.
Thompson: I think the biggest change in our district was we had four areas. Each area had their own superintendent and their own trustees, but one food service director. And people can get so territorial. And it was like an Act of Congress to get something done because we also had a county board. So if you needed something, wanted something done you had to go by that area superintendent, the other trustees had to pass it over, and then it had to come to the council and then the county school board. So when Mr. Mathewson was there, he was elected president, elected superintendent, he decided to get a referendum to merge the school districts, and it passed and that was wonderful. Wonderful. They still had their little area superintendents, but it eliminated all the trustee boards. And now we don’t just have the area superintendents. We just have one superintendent. We don’t even have an assistant or an associate. And one school board and it pays. But the principals are still territorial [laughs along with group]. But it makes things a whole lot easier and we have centralized menus. Because before managers would run their own menus and do their own buying or whatever. And now no sales people are allowed in the schools period. Everything comes through the district office.
Webb: Any other thoughts about you or children and memories of school lunch?
Webb: Well, I know a few of you mentioned some disasters that you’ve had to deal with. Can you think of some things you would like to tell us about disasters, whether it was hurricanes or power outages?
Thompson: Hurricane Hugo. We were like Lova Jean and had to open our schools as shelters when Hugo came through. It did damage our office, but because we had no power they moved our office onto the second floor of the high school and that’s where they moved computers and everything else. So that’s where we worked out of, and I really have nothing against the Red Cross, but they get in the way. They don’t know what they’re doing. We finally had to tell them to just move out of the food service area period, because they were in the way. And the ones up there that we dealt with, all they wanted to do was eat. [laughter among group] They did. All they wanted to do was eat. But see, we already had a system because we had to feed the community and the schools that did have electricity. We were hauling food in from those schools to cook because they were going to lose it anyway. But it worked out good. We did lunch and we did dinner for the community. We didn’t do breakfast.
Bullman: Basically, even though we were supposed to use our commodities, we still had to get into using our purchases, our purchased food. I remember the night that Hugo was coming in. They designated where the shelters were going to be. Some of them were out in these small towns where they had pecan trees. See we had these huge tall pine trees. And some of these schools did not have these cups for them to drink out of. So here I am going from school to school to make sure that they’ve all got cups, and I think to myself, “You know, these trees are going to fall and you’re going to be out here in the middle of all this.” But I was the one that was carting all the supplies around from school to school for them to use and have for that night, and what a night that was.
Thompson: It was.
Bullman: It was a horrible night. We had 145 mph winds and it sounded as if you were in a gigantic vacuum cleaner. And we had – you know the pressure gets real low when you get into the eye – we had a baby that was born in one of our shelters, Sommerville High School.
Holstein: You didn’t have to deliver it? [laughter among group]
Bullman: No, I didn’t have to deliver it. But we cooked actually three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we had to provide for basically a lot of the community and then like I said, they sent in the National Guard to sort of guard everything for us and make sure everything was alright. So we fed the troops. We’ve had hurricanes since then – we’ve been threatened recently. We have four out there now that they’re watching. But setting up the shelters – I think Hugo was probably the worst one that we’ve ever done. Hugo was probably the worst one. I remember that one night we had a chemical spill and it was near one of the nursing homes and they had to evacuate Presbyterian Home, which is a home for the elderly. And they brought them to Sommerville Elementary School. They had the tables that had the little round benches. They didn’t have any beds for those elderly people. They didn’t have anything for them to really lay down on and cots or anything for them. And I think Presbyterian Home has about 300, so we probably had about 300 elderly patients there. The staff from Presbyterian Home came over to take care of the patients, but school food service people stayed and volunteered their time all night long to work with those patients. And you’d feel so sorry for some of them because they were old and they didn’t have a place to lay down, so we tried to keep them with fluids and keep them entertained all night as best we could. The evacuation of Presbyterian Home for the elderly, and Hurricane Hugo, probably two of the worst disasters that I think I ever experienced while I was director of food services.
Thompson: When they’re setting up those shelters at night you have to have food there for them to eat. It was an experience. One I hope I never have to go through again.
Bullman: You’ll see people who are really grateful for what you’re doing and then you’ll see people saying, “Why aren’t you doing more for us?”
Thompson: Yeah, and they want all these plates to take out, so and so is sick at home and they couldn’t come. I mean it was something else. My husband worked for the utility company and so of course he was working, and I would meet him coming and going and I had two children and I hauled them around with me. And I put them to work in the kitchen.
Bullman: I heard someone talking on the way over here about the disasters that they’ve had in Florida and how impatient some of the people have become down there because the electricity has not been restored for them, especially this last one. They were on electricity two days after the event happened, and we were without power for well over three weeks.
Thompson: And I felt bad, because my husband worked for the utility company. They got our power on right then because they didn’t want their employees worrying about their families. They needed to concentrate on their job. That’s one of their policies. They would get their families back up first, and they did. But then I felt bad because some of my neighbors did not have power, but we did. We were out of our office for over a week. We worked out of a high school.
Bullman: I think when you talk about your faith and praying and saying prayers I was out all night with the shelters and was not in my home, and the next morning when I left to go home all you could smell was the fresh scent of pine – pine trees that had broken. And I thought, “Oh my goodness, what has happened to my home?” All the way home I thought, “Dear Lord, please don’t let anything too bad have happened at my house.” And I got home and we had lost eighteen trees and none of them had fallen on our house. So my prayers were answered that night. But that was the night I don’t think that if you lived through it you don’t ever want to go through again. And you can sympathize with those people in Florida that have had three. I don’t know how they’re surviving.
Johnston: I think you all have talked a little bit, each of you have, about changes you have seen over the years, but could you talk a little bit more about changes in the child nutrition profession/ program or what you witnessed? What do you think have been some of the biggest changes over the years?
Holstein: Well, this Offer vs. Serve and serve yourself /self serve.
Werner: Discipline in the cafeteria.
Webb: [laughs] Obviously, not for the positive.
Thompson: [Shakes head from side to side] It’s terrible.
Holstein: I know we had to do over all our serving lines so they could serve themselves, and give kindergarten orientations and give a little slide presentation of “this is how you go through the line and this is how you pick up your stuff” and you know the teachers were not too thrilled with that. And the principal was less than thrilled. But here I had set it up and bought new equipment in one school. But I thought I was going to have five-year-old children. And I still remember getting a child that was five years old and saying, “Get up there honey. Let me see how tall you are,” and see if we would be able to accommodate them, and then we started feeding four-year-olds and then three-year-olds. I thought, “Oh, Lord.” But you know, that’s when they were doing all that in restaurants. They were letting them serve themselves and this sort of thing and I thought, “Well, they eat out as much as they eat at home and I don’t know why they couldn’t do it,” and of course they could. But the big thing was picking up a ticket or some method of identification so that you could give them credit for it. I know that we went through several accountability things. I had a board once where they picked up their card. I know you all probably know this, but in kindergarten then they were teaching them – they each had a shape – I never got the gist of that, but they all had a shape. Oh God, but anyway, you know, like a dog or a cat. I’m thinking, “I’d hate to be known as a dog.” [laughter among group] Anyway, this little girl came up to me – I was in there; we were trying to get them through the line at breakfast – and she said to me, “I can’t find my ticket and I’s a cup.” And I said, “Oh, yeah. Um-hm. Go tell the girl up there whose keeping the records your problem,” and she did. Well I thought that she knew that was her shape – a cup. So the accountant called me hours later and she said, “Pat I have looked through every record I have and I can not find a child called Isa Cup anywhere.” So there’s a little humor mixed in there. But I just don’t understand that concept, I’m sorry, I didn’t teach kindergarten I guess, but why a child would be a cup for her shape. [PH rolls eyes back] But we put that on the ticket. We just finally went through and took all the little shapes and put them on the tickets so they could see better.
Watts: I think one of the most positive things that happened and I was against the most was the Commodity Program. If you remember we went to launching and this fellow came and talked to us about having our commodities sent through our vendor, you remember that? And we said, “Oh, how is that going to work? I don’t know if that’s going to work or not. We don’t have to pay for it or do nothing?” And of course, we kind of not knowing what was going to happen, we’re wondering how we were going to do all of that. But it was probably one of the most positive things that ever happened to school food service, because then when that happened we could plan and knew what order we would receive it. And up until then we went to a warehouse, a county warehouse, and the fellows would pull it out from there and bring it to you and you didn’t know what you were going to get and when you were going to get it.
Holstein: I did.
Watts: You did? But that as far as I can tell was one of the most positive things that happened because you got information on meats that sometime you would want to have, what you were going to get, and you could pull it out as you needed it rather than having the truck pull up with surprises for you.
Cassels: Did you ever have to be responsible for commodities?
Watts: I did not.
Cassels: Trust me. Had you been on that end of it when they said they were going to deliver to the warehouse we thought that was the most glorious day of our lives. I used to sit at the railroad station for hours.
Holstein: Like that man from Texas.
Cassels: I would sit there for hours. They would call me and the stuff would come in that afternoon and I can hear the guy at the railroad station, he’d say, “Susan.” I went, “Oh no, please don’t tell me I have to.” “Yes you do. You’ve got a boxcar full of grits or cheese or whatever.” And I would have to go down there in the morning about 7:30 and start calling your district [points toward persons seated on her right]. York and all these districts. And they would send a truck over there to pick up their fair share off of that railroad car. And you would sit there literally all day long – cold, hot, rain, or shine. You would sit at that railroad station so you could count off the commodity items for the districts that came to your district to get commodities. And I remember sitting there addressing Christmas cards, because you had nothing to do and they actually paid me to sit there and address Christmas cards, because I had to sit there and wait. And some districts would come right away; some districts would come like two or three o’clock in the afternoon. It had been sitting there since seven or seven-thirty in the morning. So when they said they would deliver at the warehouse I was happy. The funniest commodity thing I ever got was one day I came in after lunch and someone had left a message on my desk that the lady from Greenwood had called and said they have a truckload of dead chickens over there and I needed to come down and get my share of them. [laughter among group] You know the lady from Greenwood? [turns and asks Marcella Clark]
Clark: Joan Gardner?
Cassels: Joan Gardner. She left a message with my secretary that we had a truckload of dead chickens. Considering how I love chickens anyway, that one is one I will never forget.
Holstein: So you can see why I took part in that CLOC program. Anything rather than what they’re talking about.
Clark: I think one major change that I think impacted this program and not necessarily for the good was in the mid-80s when the National Soft Drink Association sued the US Department of Agriculture, because at one point we had competitive foods rules that prohibited all of the carbonated beverages and all the things we deal with day in and day out now from being sold until after, from midnight until after the last lunch period of the day on campus. And the Soft Drink Association, when they went through their lawsuit which led to saying that the Secretary of Agriculture did not having jurisdiction over the school campus, and unfortunately that’s when we ended up with the competitive foods rules we have now.
Bullman: And forced us to have to sell a lot of things we didn’t want to sell in the cafeteria in order to stay financially sound.
Clark: Well, just a very unfortunate twist to the program. Up to that point there was a lot of, even if it was misunderstood at times that we didn’t have rules that prohibited that some school cafeterias didn’t even allow students to bring carbonated beverages from home. I mean there were a lot of things going on then where and now – the tremendous increase in the consumption of soft drinks and all the theories of obesity in children and everything and that is obviously a major thing, when it happened you think at the time obesity, oh this is just another rule that’s been undone or whatever, but I think no one foresees down the road, 15 or 20 years down the road, what that is really going to mean. It’s been 20 years since that ruling. At the time it was a big issue and now we’ve learned to live with it and unfortunately the outcomes haven’t been exactly good.
Bullman: And it makes you wonder when the students, children, are not eating as nutritionally as they could or should now, what kind of health problems are they going to experience when they get to be, if they get to be our age, because they’re not getting the nutrients and the calcium, the vitamins and minerals that they need.
Holstein: Well look at diabetes.
Holstein: I mean when I started we had two kids in the whole building that had diabetes. I’d talk to the manager and they’d watch those two children, and now there are all kinds of children that have diabetes.
Bullman: But can you imagine the long-term effect it’s going to have on their health?
Webb: Any other thoughts on some of the changes you’ve seen from when you started working until, or even when you were in school, until now? I know some of you said you actually worked at food preparation. Someone mentioned about cooking from scratch. What have you done about that?
Bullman: I think there’s been a big change in that because we had several, we did serve a lot of processed foods. There was not a lot of from-scratch cooking. We did a lot of batch cooking to not have to cook everything at one time. You still had those people who had been in school food service for years and years that still wanted to go in and do 300 servings of something first thing in the morning, put it in a warmer and hold it. That was one of the hardest things to teach them – to cook as you go along to do batch cooking. I think we need to probably get back to from-scratch cooking, health wise, for our students. But we can’t afford to pay the labor – to bring enough people in to do it now because most of the schools are so overcrowded and you have so many students, especially in our area, that you can’t afford the labor.
Clark: There’s one major difference too, the fact that the labor force you have don’t know how to – I mean it’s become not an art anymore. The young people are just all used to just doing the microwave and –
Bullman: – take it out of a box and put it on a pan.
Clark: Right. Exactly. It’s a totally different environment in terms of what you have to choose from in the labor force. The individuals who have any skills in from-scratch cooking no longer are around.
Watts: Marcy, you just confirmed what a friend told me last week when she found out about this conference. I asked her what she thought was the biggest change and she said, “The kind of people you have. They don’t ever have to, never will learn how to do it. They just know how to get a paycheck now.” So you just summed it up.
Clark: Even when you interview some food service employees you say, “How many of you like to cook?” Because to me that would be one of the most important things in terms of how they feel about their jobs and I’ve been in sessions where I’ve had forty or fifty employees and no one raised their hand. I mean it was like, “What, you all don’t like to cook?” I mean it was just amazing to me. Life is too short. You should be doing something you enjoy doing. But to not even like to cook but this is what you do. Maybe they all really loved children and maybe that’s why they’re there – but between the two of them. I just can’t imagine spending day after day at a job that I didn’t enjoy, cooking, that just wasn’t part of what I liked to do.
Bullman: And you know Marcy, I think one of the problems that the program’s experiencing now is to find dedicated labor, to find people who will come in and work. Labor got so expensive with the fringe benefits and what have you, trying to make our program stay financially sound, that we went to part-time labor and that cut out the fringe benefits and people would come in for four or five hours a day and you didn’t have to pay those fringe benefits, and then I think that cut down on the quality of some of the people we had working there. Because really health benefits is a big concern for everyone and of course the state programs offer wonderful health benefits, but if you couldn’t afford to pay them in your program that was another story, and I still think it’s hard to find people to work. Before I retired two years ago it was hard to get people to come in who wanted to work four hours a day, and if they came they would work about a month or two or three months and they would say, “This is too hard for what I’m bringing home, and get paid once a month, and then they’re taking out all these taxes on it.” And they look, “What am I taking home? I’ve got to find something better.” Labor was a big issue in the change of the program because when I first started out everyone was six hours, everyone got the benefits.
Holstein: Another thing we haven’t mentioned, I don’t know if maybe Marcy or Sue might remember, the districts were in trouble financially. They didn’t have enough money.
Bullman: And they borrowed our money.
Holstein: And they took our money. Well, they did. They found a way around it and –
Bullman: – they put it in their account.
Holstein: Yeah. And sometimes you didn’t realize it was gone until you said, “Ah, wait a minute, I had a dollar and so and so when I left here in the spring and now it’s down to this.” “Oh, well, we were able to take this much.” And that’s why our labor, we had to cut back on labor so much and on what we served because they took. When we made a big profit I tried to get them new uniforms, shoes, whatever, to use the money before they realized I had it. Because if you didn’t, oh yeah, that was fair game. So then we started going to business meetings, you know, tried to find out what they were telling us.
Bullman: Offer vs. Serve helped us tremendously financially.
Bickley: The way we collected money in the schools was a change also, because when I first started working I started out with two schools, as I said, a part-time job. The children would bring the money to the teachers, the teachers would put it in a little zip bag, and they would send it to me. And I had my little spot in the office where I worked, and it took a lot of a teacher’s time to do that. And at Irmo Elementary I remember there were two teachers there that liked to collect silver coins, and back then you could find dimes and quarters and silver coins and they’d always send me a couple of extra dollars and they’d say, “Hold out the silver coins for me.” So I would watch for those. But that took a good bit of a teacher’s time. Then we started, I was trying to remember the name of the collection system –
Bickley: Accutab. We went to Accutab system and that freed up the teachers’ time a good bit from collecting monies from the children. Then it kind of amazed me that those little children, those kindergarteners and first graders, they had memorized their numbers and –
Watts: Not for Accutab.
Bickley: Oh, is that right?
Watts: It was later they had to memorize.
Bickley: What was that?
Watts: It was a system called PCS, wasn’t it?
Bickley: Each cafeteria had a cashier –
Webb: Was it more computerized, like punching a number in for each child?
Bickley: They did. And they had to memorize their number. And they could do it. I think there was a lot of doubt about whether the children would be able to do it, but they could.
Webb: The child punched it in on the keyboard?
Bickley: Um-hm. Do they still do that?
Watts: Yeah. She hit on something there too, about the teachers taking the money out to the cafeteria. When we put in the Accutab system it was tickets and it just cut off a day at a time and the teachers were just thrilled that they didn’t have to do that, but I personally was worried when we went into it that I couldn’t afford, number one, an extra person for a cashier, and all those tickets we had to buy, and the machines that we had to buy. We had to do it with school food service money, but the first year that we put it in our gross profit came up to the point that we paid for everything and the salaries, which told me that the teachers were too busy doing their other work to really keep tabs on this. Because what would happen is the children would be marched to the cafeteria and everybody ate. Remember that system Marcy? And then we had to go to the more accountability. Each child had to have their own ticket and then they had to come through and then there had to be an accounting for it at the line, rather than in the classroom.
Bullman: I’d have to compete with the principal on what he was going to sell and what I was going to sell, was one of the biggest obstacles. I remember when it first started happening and the principal went out and bought these big bags of Tom’s potato chips and he was selling them for a dollar a bag. Well, no one was coming into the cafeteria and I thought, “What in the world am I going to do?” Well I got the bright idea that I would start selling French fries for a quarter and I put him out of business. [laughter among group] He said, “What am I going to do with all these potato chips?” I said, “I don’t know, but you were really cutting into my program.” So after that, you got to the place that you had to, if they were selling something for fifty cents you had to sell it for forty to compete with them to try to keep money coming into your program so you could keep your labor, feed the children a nutritional meal. You know you wouldn’t cut your participation competing with the principal and it pitted us against each other. And I said then, if it ever came to pass that the food program could give a portion of their profits back to the school to operate the school then you would have the principal working with you. And it would be a program that would benefit everyone. That hasn’t come to pass. I hope before I die that I see something like that happen. I see reading the paper where schools are putting all nutritional snacks in and doing this type of thing, but I think that if they ever have it where all foods that are sold in the cafeteria that there’s a portion that’s shared, back to the school, of the profit, then you’ll have that principal supporting you. But right now I think it’s still happening that the principal and the cafeteria manager start fighting with each other about what she’s selling, what he’s selling, or the food service director just trying to survive with these competitive foods. If there was ever a mandate that they were going to get something out of it. They don’t want to sell candy. I don’t think they want to be selling food. I don’t know how they’ll ever get rid of Coca-Cola, because Coca-Cola’s gotten their hooks in too deep. But the principals don’t want to have to deal with their secretaries having to sell candy.
Thompson: We have one middle school and the principal – before the students come to their first lunch they go by her candy, where she sells her candy and whatever, and this is on their way to the cafeteria.
Bullman: It’s gotten way, way, way out of hand.
Thompson: And one of our large high schools, our accountant in the office had told me, this is at a large high school, and he takes like a $100,000 in lunch every day.
Bullman: Well, with that principal they could eat my lunch with that dollar they were paying for that bag of potato chips, they could eat my lunch and get French fries too.
Cassels: Ya’ll were fortunate because in some situations the principals are the authority figure and you couldn’t do that. And there are schools here in the state where they are told they will not have the extra sales and they’re really jeopardizing the ability of them, that school, to offer food for the students and they have no recourse because the authority is through principal, or the district office has no ability to go in and challenge these principals and whatever they decide to serve the students that’s what they’re getting and you give a child a choice between a nutritious meal and they’ve got to stand in line quite often because we don’t have the facilities that we need. The cafeterias, they’ve added on to all the schools, but they do not renovate the cafeterias so they’d be big enough, so the students have a choice. They can stand in a line, which we can not control, or they can go to the canteen and eat soft drinks, potato chips, and especially when they’re older students get to the point where they want to visit with their friends – they’re going to go to the canteen. They’re not going to participate in our program. So I think that’s one of our really big obstacles in providing food and the nutrition that our students need. We can’t deal with that, we can’t fight it. We don’t have enough control to do it and that’s one of our biggest obstacles in our program.
Thompson: That’s what I was telling Bernice when we were sitting up here. I guess I’ve just been blessed that I have worked with some really, really good superintendents that have supported our program. And principals, they don’t really have anything to do with the cafeteria. They set the schedule for lunch and that’s about it. Because I interview employees and I hire them and recommend them for termination, but they don’t really get involved. They have to schedule the staff to be in there on duty, but that’s about it. We had one board member when all this came up about contract management, when it first came out in South Carolina, one board member kept bringing it up in a board meeting and the superintendent would come and tell me every time he would bring it up, so I got the word out to the employees that he was talking about this, and of course the superintendent never would push it. So when the next election came up and it was time for him to run for re-election, he got voted off the board and that was the end of any discussion on contract management. [laughter among group]
Bullman: Marcy, how many districts do we have that are contract management? [LB turns to MC]
Clark: Eleven or twelve. Maybe ten to twelve.
Bullman: Are there new ones being added every year?
Clark: No. There’s six in Spartanburg.
Holstein: They’ve been there a good while too.
Clark: Yes, they’ve been there a good while. So that’s six. You have Anderson – four. You have Greenwood, York one, that’s nine. Lexington – two, and Buford. So really that’s kind of stabilized quite a lot.
Thompson: Well, when we were getting our superintendent – it was meet the superintendents or the candidates that were I guess like the front-runners – there was two of them. And I asked both of them, because that would have been a deciding factor of whether I voted for them to be the superintendent or not, was how do you feel about contract food services. And Mr. Taylor, he said, “Well, I don’t like them.” He said, “I think a food service program should be self-run. I’m against it.” I said, “Well, you got my vote.” They did hire him. The board did hire him as our superintendent.
Bullman: I think about our first program with outsourcing, and now the complaints they’re having because the United States is outsourcing so many jobs overseas. You know, they know what it feels like.
Holstein: Well, Susan said I shouldn’t tell ya’ll this, but I’m going to tell you. You know I’m from a small town and of course you get involved in everything, like Lova Jean said. And so we got a new football coach ten or fifteen years ago and you know football’s a big deal in a small town. Well, he got ready to play the game on Friday night and he had four that were not able to play because they had had a little too much beer. And so he cut ’em. Well, you just didn’t do that, but he did, so I’m surprised he stayed around for two or three years. He came to me the next week, now you know everybody in town knew about it, of course, so he came to me the next week and he said, “Pat, I want you to do something for me. I’m going to have to keep these players, just like they do in college, from the time they get out of school to the time they get ready to play. Will you and your ladies fix them a good supper? And we’ll show films. We’ll just do anything to keep them in there, because they aren’t eating right anyway. They’re eating at fast food places.” And I said, “Yeah, but it’s gonna cost ya, because we want to go to the convention this year.” Well, anyway we came up with a figure that wasn’t that bad [laughs]. And I knew that this high carbohydrate athletic stuff was just getting in, and now we’re all eating Dr. Atkin’s, but anyway high carbohydrates were big time then and so I called Rose Davis, who was a nutritionist, had her doctorate with Clemson extension, and I said, “Rose, I’m gonna do a little publicity on this thing, but if you’ll help me do some menus that are high carb that I can put in the paper” – we had a little ol’ paper – “that these boys are taking part in a high carbohydrate meal. They’re eating this high carbohydrate meal so they’re gonna play better and do all this stuff better.” So she said yes, and we did. We ended up with two. I don’t know if you’re still doing them. [turns to Susan Cassells] One was chicken, half chicken, cream of potato, green beans, roll. And you know coaches think if you give a kid a banana he ain’t gonna get cramps. Then we gave them a banana. But then the other one was spaghetti and meat sauce and French bread and salad and banana. Well, they had a good team, and after the boys saw this man means business, the boys of course had to eat with us and we kind of went around to different schools, so one manager wasn’t stuck with it every time. And I was there every Friday afternoon helping with that blessed meal. The first time we did it the boys all came by and said, “Oh, thank you, this was a wonderful meal, we enjoyed it.” So I told the coach, “You don’t have to go that far and make them thank us.” He said, “Pat, we didn’t say a word to them.” I said, “Oh, okay.” Well, the cheerleaders decided that if that was what the boys were going to do, they needed to be there too. So we started feeding the cheerleaders. Then we had the managers, and we always had the coaches because you know they liked to eat. But it went so well that they’re still doing it. But do they do it for basketball too? [turns to Susan Cassels who shakes her head from side to side- no] But I’m just saying we turned what could have been a catastrophe into a study they were doing on high carbs.
Bickley: How did the football teams do then?
Holstein: Oh, they started winning. He was a good coach. [laughter among group]
Bickley: Well, that feeding them helped.
Cassels: I’ll tell you some of the biggest obstacles to our program is that sometimes what we have to do in terms of our rules and regulations don’t quite make sense. And it’s very hard sometimes to explain to teachers and to administrators that you can’t do certain things, that the logical thing is not the legal thing, you might say. And I think that’s what’s been one of the biggest obstacles in getting the support of the teachers, and then the support of the principals. Because really sometimes they don’t make sense, but you do have to have guidelines to follow. And I understand why, but that’s because we work with it every day. And the teachers and the administrators don’t, and they don’t understand our program. And it’s too complicated to explain it because when you look at all the manuals we have – it’s too complicated and you would never, you’d loose some of them.
Holstein: They can’t even understand that chocolate milk doesn’t make a child hyper.
Cassels: Yeah, it’s things like that. It’s very hard sometimes to sell what we do and the way we do it.
Watts: I want to tell you one thing about when Susan mentioned canteen a while ago. We had a board policy in our district for thirty years that said nothing would be sold on the school grounds from a canteen until after school was out each day, and that policy stayed firm for thirty years. One day we hired a new principal at one of our high schools. He came in from another district that had canteens. So he got around our board policy by putting machines in and he said, “That’s not a canteen.” I took exception to it and I went to the board with it and they read it the same way he did, because he got to them before I did. So that policy that stood firm through two superintendents and several boards, several administrations, was torn apart by this one principal who insisted that he was going to have his machines in the halls right outside our doors. And it was not a canteen because it was a vending machine. So that’s where we are today.