Tom Johnson, a representative of the TAHER food service corporation, gave a presentation to the Gering School Board Monday evening outlining his company’s philosophy to approaching K-12 school lunch management.
TAHER was awarded the contract to provide food services to all Gering schools late last spring and with school starting last week the board was interested in knowing how things were going. Johnson said TAHER is based out of Minnesota and has been a private company for over 30 years. They are active in 13 states and serve several Nebraska school districts including Scottsbluff.
“We believe in good food and fresh ingredients,” Johnson told the board. “We work with a corporate dietician and we are centered on children and their satisfaction.”
Johnson said the company customizes their approach to food service based upon regional taste and they will even work with their chefs to retain ‘hometown favorites’ that were already popular lunch offerings in any given district.
“For example, if we make spaghetti and it tastes different than a recipe that is more popular we will change our approach and readapt to capture the original flavor,” Johnson said.
TAHER food services practices what they call ‘Food 4 Life’ as they serve various populations ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. “We do taste tests and all our nutritional information is accessible online,” Johnson explained. “We will work with student groups to ensure a healthy and popular menu that avoids too much repetition.”
Johnson also said they would like to look into promoting local food sources with their ‘Farm to School’ program.
“We highlight local food with our ‘Harvest of the Month’ program,” he said, “where we put up posters with fun facts about the food item and we do food sampling.”
Johnson said TAHER retained the existing food service crew for all the schools and that things have been working out well as employees are learning some new procedures with the new company.
Board member B.J. Peters said he spoke to a parent of a fourth grade student who said his son loves the new food. “He loves all the fresh fruits and vegetables,” Peters said, “and from what I know this fourth grader is said to be a picky eater.”
Superintendent Bob Hastings said there was a long line at the high school cafeteria as the students were curious to try out the new food system. “It is going well,” Hastings said. “The people like it.” Hastings invited the board members to come to the high school and try out TAHER for themselves.
Board member Jerry Upp also said he had heard good reports about the school lunches. “I’m excited things are going well,” he said. “It’s been great so far.”