January 3, 2016
Nutrition Services Director
Ed Ducar’s first taste of food service work began with a job at Burger King. After obtaining a degree in Food and Dietetics, he discovered that he also had a passion for the science of cooking. Fresh out of college, he landed a position in a nursing home where he gained further experience in customer service. That led him to several other jobs in large corporations, including a 15-year stint with Riverfront Park Food and Beverage Service, and then onto his current position with Coeur d’Alene Nutrition Services. Or, as Ed says, he “traded cotton candy for milk, fruit and veggies!”
What changes have you seen over the years vis a vis the local food scene?
One of the biggest issues has been the difficulty of food suppliers to being able to keep up with policy changes that that mandate that schools serve foods like low-fat milk, whole grains, and less sugar. Recently, however, the industry has been streamlining their product lines so that the foods that they manufacture for commercial accounts (e.g. schools) are more aligned with those used by households.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
As food trends shift, schools are also under pressure to respond to the ever-changing dietary requirements. Presently the emphasis is on serving more fresh, local fruits and vegetables, and gluten free foods. Ed embraces these changes, and is continually looking for innovative ways to incorporate such foods into the school lunch program. For example, this past fall they had a day where the children husked corn. By engaging them with directly with food they are to eat, they are more apt to try it.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Ed’s favorite parts of his job are serving the children food that they like and communicating with both the children and their parents. He participates in a variety of school-based and community programs such as PTOs and Let’s Move where he is able to inform parents about food choices for their children, as well as helping to educate them about what kinds of foods are needed during food drives.
When you aren’t busy farming/doing your work what kinds of things do you like to do?
In his free time, Ed enjoys volunteering at his church and in the community, and helping out his neighbors. He also loves much of what the Inland Northwest has to offer in the great outdoors: skiing, fly fishing and hiking. He has two grown son, both of whom can cook with the best of them!
What do you envision for the future of our local food system?
Ed’s concern is the need to support the growth and development of small to medium size farms in the region, and to make farming as a way of life viable. He also feels strongly that public education about where our food comes from and how it is grown is key. He is enthusiastic about potential partnerships that will allow us to grow a strong local food system that ensures that everyone has access to healthy foods.