From Pizza to Vegetables, IPS Food Service Manager Sees Changing Meal Trends – Indianapolis Public Schools

Connie Kristelli has first-hand evidence of how students’ taste buds have evolved over the past 34 years of working in Indianapolis Public School (IPS) cafeterias.

As a food services manager at Shortridge High School, she watched plates filled to the brim with pizzas, burgers and fries turn into platters full of fruits and vegetables as students became more self-conscious. health.

“Right now we’re seeing our students tearing up our vegetable bar — they seem to gravitate to that area,” Kristelli said. “I think it’s because they’re more health conscious. They know what they should and shouldn’t eat. We’re all trying to eat a little healthier now.

She also points out that students across the district are asking for a variety of fruits and vegetables. In fact, students consumed 135 tons of apples in 2021-22.

But, while many young people are counting their calories, carbs and fats, others still want an old-fashioned home-cooked meal, like pasta with meatballs and a bread stick.

“What pleases me is the return of mandarin chicken on rice. It was off our menu for a few years. I’m curious to see if today’s students love it as much as those of yesteryear.

Kristelli oversees a cafeteria that feeds around 500 students every day. Overall, IPS Foodservice prepared 10,000 breakfasts and 22,000 lunches for its 31,000 students across the district.

Last year, IPS students consumed:

  • 5.6 million cartons of milk.
  • 2 million servings of chicken.
  • 175,000 pounds of potatoes.
  • 270,000 servings of yogurt.
  • 1.2 million bowls of cereal.

Kristelli’s hard work and long working hours, which usually start at 6 a.m. and don’t end until the last child is fed in the middle of the afternoon, have made her a legend throughout the world. district.

Dena Bond, Director of IPS Foodservice, believes Kristelli may well be the reason thousands of students have come to know IPS as a place where they can enjoy the variety of delicious foods found in IPS cafeterias.

“Connie is simply a pleasure to work with and everyone who interacts with her has nothing but positive things to say,” Bond said. “She has adapted very well over the past 30+ years to changes in staff, operations, menus, schools, etc. Connie is a leader whose love for her work shows in the way she collaborates with staff and puts her heart into serving students. healthy school meals every day.

Known as the “boss” by her tight-knit team at Shortridge, Kristelli takes personal pride in ensuring students have the most nutritious meals possible.

“Starting the day with a good breakfast and then having a well-cooked lunch is very important to our students,” she said. “We know it helps them stay focused and do well in their classes.”

And, with the school year just beginning, Kristelli has no plans to slow down. Shortridge students should plan to see her packing sandwiches, pouring ladles of soup and chopping vegetables for a few more years.

“I like this job. I’ve always said that when I don’t have a heart for students and get grumpy, I’ve had enough. But, I’m nowhere near that. There are too many meals to prepare.