Chef Tim Moves On
by Melissa Bailey | Aug 30, 2012 2:05 pm
After putting New Haven schools on the map for its salad bars, gardens, and whole-wheat pancakes, Chef Tim Cipriano is moving on to spend more time with his kids.
Chef Tim, as he’s best known, is resigning on Sept. 14 from his $103,000-a-year post as New Haven Public Schools director of food services.
Cipriano said Guilford recruited him to become food director of its school district.
“It was a good offer. I couldn’t refuse it,” said Cipriano, who’s 40.
“I love New Haven. I pictured myself staying here forever,” Cipriano said. “But there’s many challenges with running a big city.” The Guilford job is much smaller in scope. “It will be a great opportunity to have a little bit of more time off to devote for my kids,” who are 7, 8 and 10, he said. And it will give him more time for fresh food and anti-hunger advocacy work.
“It made more sense to focus on my career and my family life,” he said.
Over the past four years, Cipriano oversaw a transition in the schools from an outsourced food management company to in-house management.
Under his watch, “menus evolved and changed from highly processed foods to many more real foods and more frequent fresh foods and vegetables on the menu,” Cipriano said.
Chef Tim frequently popped up in schools to introduce students to local food, new salad bars, cooking classes, whole-wheat pancakes, and baked chicken. He slowly cut out fried food, Doritos, and chocolate milk and shifted the schools towards more fresh green food.
He rolled out a food truck to bring free meals to kids during the summers.
His efforts drew national attention. In 2010, he was one of ten chefs picked to coordinate a program connecting chefs to schools (as in the video from Barnard School) as part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. He was named a White House “champion of change” that year, too.
Cipriano also made a big push to buy local: Last school year, through a “farm to school” initiative, New Haven bought 160,000 pounds of local products, he said.
Chef Tim made strides in “scratch cooking, nutrition and healthy eating,” schools Chief Operating Officer Will Clark said.
Clark said Cipriano set up New Haven’s programs and relationships “so they are sustainable and replicable.”
“We wish him well in the next chapter of his career, but we’re confident we’re in a tremendous place to move forward,” Clark said.
The next focus for school food will be on the business end, Clark said. For example: The district is running an aggressive drive to get more parents to sign up for free and reduced price meals, with $10 million in federal funding at stake.
Clark said the district will look to hire a new director of food services who can “continue and expand healthy options,” while also focusing on tightening business operations.
“We’ve proven we can do this in-house, and certainly as well as these outside companies that proclaim to do these things,” Clark said, “but there’s still obviously room for growth.”
“We simply have to do a better job” with the food budget, he said.
Tags: Tim Cipriano, Chef Tim, Will Clark, school lunches
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Thanks for your service, Tim. Hopefully we’ll find someone to carry the torch.
Thank You Tim, and good fortune. Your quiet modesty and strength of dedication to a goal that needed to be identified and addressed is a model for everyone. Your hard work everyday to the goal of making children healthy so they could have a brighter future was so simple to say but your hard work, and upbeat approach has made it a reality for all the children of New Haven.The only hope is that many of the folks who fill positions similar to yours follow your lead and this becomes not only a statewide program, but nationwide. Thank You again as just saying it once is not enough.
I’m sorry to see Tim go. As a parent, I want to express my gratitude to Tim for making improvements in the school food service program. I can’t express how happy I was merely with the removal of chocolate milk! I’m just sorry he didn’t have time to get rid of the cookies that come with breakfast. We’ll leave that for Tim’s successor. Thank you Tim and good luck in your next venture.