Diann [Banic] Tosh
Lunch lady for Michigan
South Haven schools’ food service director, Diann
Tosh, was recently named president of the School Nutrition Association of
Michigan. She has been working in school food service for nearly 25 years.
She recently spoke with Staff Writer Andrew Lersten.
So what was it like having (former President) Bill Clinton talk at your
It was very, very cool.
Did he talk about his notorious Big Mac habit?
He talked a little about that, and his work with the Alliance for a
Healthier Generation. They were instrumental in getting pop taken out of
Do you think that was a good idea?
Oh, yeah. They needed that for a long time. We don’t sell it, but they
can bring it. There’s no way you can stop them from bringing a lunch from
Are school food service rules still moving in the direction of healthier
Oh, my goodness. Last year (President) Obama signed the Healthy,
HungryFree Kids Act. It’s going to cost us a lot more money but it’s going
to follow the new guidelines. It almost doubled the amount of fruits and
vegetables required every day, and restricts starchy vegetables like
potatoes, corn and peas to one cup a week.
I appreciate what they’re trying to do. But the question is, when mom and
dad aren’t there, will the kids actually eat it? Or will much of it just end
up in the garbage?
We can encourage it. But it is an uphill fight. One of the other
requirements (in the new law) is that we will have to do away with chocolate
milk. Skim chocolate is allowed, but none of the dairies even make that. We
always have white milk available, but 75 percent of the kids, maybe more,
always pick chocolate milk.
Tell me about the efforts to get more locally grown fruits and vegetables
into the schools.
We are looking at ways to bring the farmers together with the schools.
But you need to buy stuff in the summer and preserve them. You can’t hold on
to fresh produce, so the question is storage during the winter months.
There’s nothing fresh around here in the winter.
Also, I bet it’s hard to control costs, because it’s all market driven.
Yes. We need to find the middle ground. I can’t afford to pay what they
charge at the farmers markets.
So the challenge of your job is finding the middle ground between these
great ideas and the reality of market forces and other factors.
And, especially, what the kids will eat. That’s what it really comes
The good news is that America has lots of plentiful, affordable food. The
bad news is that a lot of it is over processed food. We’re hoping we can
make some progress with this.
Have you crunched the numbers and ever calculated how many meals you’ve
overseen in your career?
I can tell you how many we did this year. It was amazing. We did 100,360
breakfasts and 255,1623 lunches.