Tim Prosinski, Teaching Kids the Right Way to Eat
CIA Alumni Bio
It’s the philosophy of Tim Prosinski, nutrition director at the West Hartford Schools in Connecticut, that if schools are committed to teaching kids the right way to apply math and science, they should teach them the right way to eat. In his estimation, it’s just as important. After years in the hotel and restaurant business, Tim made the change to school food ostensibly because he had young children at home and a wife who worked long hours for an insurance company. He felt it was time to spend more time with his kids. Since taking the job as nutrition director, he can honestly say it’s the best thing he ever did.
Serving Nutritious Meals
Despite the obvious challenges of preparing healthy, nutritious, and cost-effective meals in the school setting, Tim loves his job. “You can do so much and have a really positive impact. I’ve started a cooking club, helped the horticulture club get the greenhouse up and running so it’s going full bore in the fall, and I hold “Chef Tim” days to generate interest in new foods,” Tim explains. Putting on his chef’s jacket and walking around the lunchrooms gives him a kind of “rock star” status with the students. He takes the time to solicit their opinions about the food and their suggestions for change, and offers “cool” demos to try and get them to try new flavors and ingredients.
At a time when 90% of school food is pre-cooked, Tim is always looking for the balance between healthier options and the realities of his budget. He has done things like removing potato flakes from the kitchen shelves and replacing them with real potatoes that can be sautéed or mashed. Sure, they come peeled and cut in cryovac packages, but since his staff doesn’t have the time or space to peel hundreds of potatoes every day, the small step forward is important.
Chef Move to School Project
Inspired by Michelle Obama’s Chefs Move to School project, he joined thousands of other chefs for the kickoff event in Washington, DC. “It’s something I’ll never forget,” Tim declared. Clearly, many of the initiatives hoped for by the movement are already on Tim’s radar as he currently helps his kitchen staff gain the training and skills they need to “up their game.” He offers opportunities for students to get “close” to their food sources and food options. And now, Tim is one of the seven chefs selected by the School Nutrition Association to participate in a roundtable, which includes New York City’s executive chef Jorge Collazo ’82, to set up guidelines to help the Chefs Move to School campaign maximize its impact.
It’s clear from everything he does that Tim is totally committed to showing the students in his district the right way to eat.
Chef Tim Prosinski majored in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He is the director of nutrition services for West Hartford, CT school system.