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DeRusha Eats: Mpls. Public Schools' True Food Chef Council

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- At Steven Brown's award-winning Tilia in south Minneapolis, you won't find mac and cheese on the "Cootie Catcher" kids' menu.

The shrimp fried rice is good, real, scratch cooking. But Brown's making good kids' food inside and out of his restaurant.

The Minneapolis Public Schools asked him to join their True Food Chef Council.

"Having a kid myself, and living a block away from the school where my child goes, seemed like a no-brainer," Brown said.

The fruits of the chef's labors are literally already showing up in Minneapolis school lunchrooms.

Marcy Open School just got its new salad bar thanks to fundraisers organized by Restaurant Alma, Brasa, Sen Yai Sen Lek and Pizzeria Lola. They are all True Food Chef Council Members.

It may look simple, but getting a salad bar into 61 neighborhood schools isn't easy, according to Bertrand Weber. He is the director of culinary and nutrition services for MPS.

"At Marcy, we don't have a sink," Weber said.

More than 30 chefs and restaurants help serve up support and money. And they know that simply putting out broccoli and wheatberry is not going to totally change the way kids eat.

"This is the only thing like it in the country," Brown said.

The food is so good, Tilia's even putting some of it on their own menu.

"Not only is it OK for school lunch, but it's also OK for Tilia, too," he said. "Break down some of those barriers."

For school lunch to get better, parents have to stop packing Lunchables and leftover pizza, and start signing their kids up for the salad bar.

"Hey, school lunch is good, and it's good for you," Brown said.

If you want to learn more, Chef Brown and other members of the True Food Chef Council will be a part of the Linden Hills Festival on Sunday.

It goes from 11 a.m. til 5 p.m. at 43rd Street and Xerxes Avenue. And it's free.

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