CMS rolling out healthier menu options for students, improving school gardens

By: Elsa Gillis

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It’s been three months since Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced the hiring of Jody Francisco as manager of culinary development, a role focused on improving school nutrition.

Francisco was brought in by CMS superintendent Clayton Wilcox, and he’s the husband of Wilcox’s new chief of staff, Laura Francisco.

This past July, Channel 9 discovered there was not an open job search for the position -- with an $85,000 salary -- at the time of Jody Francisco’s hiring. Wilcox also admitted there was no job posting for the role.

[PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 6-figure salaries, culinary manager; new CMS leader makes big changes]

Francisco is now a few months into the job, and the October menu is still full of these items:

  • Pizza
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Corn dogs
  • Fish nuggets
  • Nachos
  • Sausage and pancake sticks
  • Chicken and sausage biscuits
  • Quesadillas
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Cheese dippers

 

Channel 9 reporter Elsa Gillis asked Francisco about the unhealthy menu options, and about when the school might see changes.

 

“Changes in a system this big, you have to understand, there have been decisions made about lunch menu going back a year and a half ago for this year,” Francisco said.

Francisco said this year is about planning.

“You’ve got to source the product. You’ve got to get it into stock, get it into distribution, work through parameters of regulation,” Francisco said.

According to Francisco, CMS will see some pilot choices this spring, and then small changes next fall.

“This is like phase one, the very beginning of what it could be," Francisco said.

Beyond the menu, Francisco said he is working to get school gardens and aquaponic farms, like the one at Garinger High School, cleaned up and classroom-ready.

 

 

“We definitely are looking to create not just better menus, but a better perception about the food itself, and to educate the students about where it comes from," Francisco said.

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