On Friday, May 11 at 6:00 p.m., The Chesapeake Film Festival’s new series REEL GEMS is presenting Cafeteria Man at St. Michaels High School. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at chesapeakefilmfestival.com or at the door.
In addition to the film, “larger than life” Tony Geraci, the star of the film; director, cinematographer and coproducer Richard Chisolm; and Deanna Deese Kilmon of Chesapeake Harvest in Easton will be on hand for a round table discussion afterward.
DID YOU KNOW
– One out of three children born in the United States in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.
– One third of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
– The National School Lunch Program serves approximately 30.5 million lunches per day at a cost of $8.7 billion a year.
– Most of our food travels 1,500 miles before we eat it.
Cafeteria Man is a story of positive movement that shows what’s possible in our nation’s schools. It’s about the aspiration of activists and citizens coming together to change the way kids eat at school. It’s about overhauling a dysfunctional nutritional system. And, it’s the story of what it takes, and who it takes, to make solutions happen.
The feature documentary film chronicles an ambitious effort to ‘green’ the public-school diet serving 83,000 students in Baltimore – and later, over 200,000 students in Memphis.
Leading the charge to replace pre-plated, processed foods with locally-grown, freshly-prepared meals is Tony Geraci, food-service director for the city’s public schools. A charismatic chef from New Orleans, Geraci’s bold vision includes school vegetable gardens, student-designed meals, and nutrition education in the classroom. His mission is as audacious as it is practical.
“This has never been done before,” affirms Geraci, “but it makes perfect sense.”
The film follows Tony Geraci as a central character, introducing audiences to the dynamic assortment of human ingredients necessary for school food reform efforts to succeed.
Among the protagonists in this story are parents, teachers, administrators, farmers, chefs, and dozens of creative and motivated students. Their collective efforts are proof positive that a ‘village’ is indeed required to transform school food.
Over the course of several years, the film traces efforts to make healthy, nutritious meals available to all the city’s students. Viewers watch as inner city youth plant and harvest vegetables at the school system’s 33-acre teaching farm, now a national model. They witness what it takes to get local produce on school plates. And they watch as high school seniors develop practical job skills through a new citywide culinary vocational training program.
“If Tony makes this happen here the way he wants to, I think you’ll see this happening all over the country,” says best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan in the film.
One of the crowning achievements of Tony’s tenure – Great Kids Farm – is a thriving, hands-on, educational resource. Since 2009, more than 5,000 students and teachers have benefited from the farm’s programs. (To learn more, visit: www.greatkidsfarm.org.) The Baltimore City Public Schools has continued to strengthen ties with local farmers, the After School Supper Program is reaching more parents/students, and a growing number of schools are incorporating salad bars.
In Easton, Sales and Marketing Director of Chesapeake Harvest, Deanna Deese Kilman, explains that her organization works on behalf of farmers to help them find marketing opportunities. She emphasizes that Tony values “Fresh” while her organization values both “local and community building to support the local economy.”
Curt Ellis, Executive Director, Foodcorps and Co-Producer, King Corn says, “Geraci is an inspiration. He proves that when you get students growing, cooking and eating healthy food, it’s not children’s lunch that changes—it’s children’s lives.” Richard Chisolm, the film’s director celebrates that we don’t have to live with a terrible situation and cites Tony’s “contagious optimism” and “evangelical” nature as helping to turn the situation around. “Tony thought that life could be better” and he made a change, Chisolm says and that why making this film was so important.
The Chesapeake Film Festival’s REEL GEMS will feature Cafeteria Man at St. Michaels High School (200 Seymour Avenue, St. Michaels, MD) on Friday, May 11 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at Chesapeakefilmfestival.com or at the door.