A Taste of Hope

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in news and happenings, school food | 0 comments

HOPE-Logo-30th_Full-1Early in 2008 when Belinda DiGiambattista first came up with the idea for what was to become Butter Beans, she knew that she needed to increase her knowledge of the food service industry.

BlogPost_PaulShe turned to her new found friend and mentor Paul Neuman, an experienced and renowned caterer and Chairman of the Board of The HOPE Program  He suggested she contact the HOPE program in regards to searching for staff to serve lunch in her schools.  Thus began a relationship that has grown and strengthened over the years.  

Just as Butter Beans serves a unique and necessary niche for school lunches and wellness nutrition, the HOPE program does the same for the unemployed and underserved.  Located in downtown Brooklyn, the HOPE program creates opportunities for New Yorkers living in poverty or less-than-ideal situations to achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment and advancement.  

Their Food Works program consists of 8 weeks or 100 hours of intense training in all facets of the food service industry.  Students who qualify learn food and worksite safety, food prep skills and are given the information necessary to complete the Food Protection Certificate exam as well as the OSHA 10 certificate for general worksite safety.   

Incoming students must pass a rigorous admissions test, demonstrating basic knowledge of English and math.  They also must show up from 9 – 5 daily to learn necessary skills such as computer training, resume writing and interviewing.  After they have completed the required training they are placed as working interns with one of HOPE’s many partners.  

logo (4)Butter Beans, LiLac Chocolate, Murray’s Cheese, Finanicer, and Brooklyn Seltzer Boys are just a few of these organizations.  Janis Quarles, Business Development Manager for HOPE says that the HOPE students have a 73% placement rate and once they are hired at one of HOPE’s partner businesses they are offered continued support with other life skills.  

Butter Beans currently has 10 HOPE graduates on staff.  That is roughly 30% of all Butter Beans on-site  school staff.  Belinda describes the relationship as “special” and says that one of the many reasons she loves having students from HOPE intern for Butter Beans is that the internship process enables the students to get familiar with the Butter Beans philosophy and allows both parties to determine if they are a good fit while offering real world training for the intern.  

The mutual respect between the partners is clear as it continues to grow.  Eight years later Belinda describes Janis as “wonderful” and Janis says Belinda is “amazing”.  I can attest that both speak the truth.

On a personal note, in my role as Supervisor for a Butter Beans school client, I had the opportunity to conduct working interviews with several HOPE interns (all of which have since been hired).  I was impressed by the professionalism, skills and knowledge they brought to the kitchen.  Both organizations advocate and support sustainability of our most important resources:  food and people.    

Empowerment, integrity, dignity and professionalism.  Exemplified in this on-going and amazing partnership.  And again,  I am so proud to be a part of this evolution!

This post was written by Tammy Chalala, Butter Beans Food Service Supervisor 

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this is school lunch?

Posted by on Apr 5, 2016 in healthy food, lunch time, nutrition, raising children, school food | 0 comments

FullSizeRender (9)I am a Registered Dietitian with an MS in Nutrition.  Prior to joining Butter Beans I was employed by the public school system.  My job was to teach “Healthy Living” to after-school students grades K – 5.  

Initially I was impressed with the NYC school food program.  Whenever bread was served it was whole wheat.  Fresh fruit was always offered.  Milk was low-fat or skim.  Meals were served on biodegradable plates.  But as I looked closer I realized that although all the meals included a protein, starch and vegetable the choices were not always representative of these food groups.  There was a heavy focus on carbohydrates, i.e., potato or corn as vegetable often paired with an entree of pizza or a burger.  A typical example:  Cheeseburger deluxe or fish and cheese sandwich.  Deluxe toppings.  Sweet potato wedges (frozen).  Accompanied by milk (mandatory) and a fruit (fresh or frozen).  The lack of fiber, micronutrients and vitamins is obvious.  Some schools provide a salad bar.  The school where I was placed did not.  The food waste was off the hook.  

Then I met Butter Beans.  

FullSizeRender (10)On that exact same day the Butterbeans menu was BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches or herbed tofu (so delicious!), steamed kale, herbed roasted potatoes, and carrot ginger soup. All made from fresh ingredients.   

Plus the salad bar which is always available and includes at least two fresh fruits, a spread, a specialty salad, two crudités, two meats, cheeses, eggs, lettuce and greens, yogurt, granola, pickles or olives, sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches, and pita.  Milk is offered but the kids can choose.  

The immediate differences were obvious.  

Even if a child doesn’t want any of the hot food options s/he could still create a great lunch from salad bar alone.  Most make choices from both.  But equally important, in my opinion, is the minimization of food waste.  Kids are not forced to take a milk and a fruit.  They are offered the choice.  They are encouraged to “take a taste” of something they may not be sure about.  

How important is that?  

Studies have shown that even if kids are on a “food jag” or “picky eaters” that they will intuitively balance their nutritional needs over a week or so.  They just know what their body wants.  

Choices are key.  

Butter Beans offers choices to any child who may be hesitant to try a new or unfamiliar food.  We don’t require a child to take a food, instead we help them choose, educating them in the process.  

I am so proud to be a part of this food revolution!

This post was written by Tammy Chalala, Food Service Supervisor for Butter Beans


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