Story and photos by Tracy Record and Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Doree Fazio-Young listened to two of the most powerful people in Seattle give speeches earlier this year and decided to challenge them to do more than talk. She invited them to meet “my kids” – the hundreds of students at Denny International Middle School, where Fazio-Young is a longtime “lunch lady” (and more).
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones accepted her invitation, and came to Denny at midday today, to serve the students lunch, and, as Fazio-Young had hoped, to “look into their eyes.”
That, she figured, would give them a much better grounding in “the real world” of school than would a five-minute photo op in “some made-up pretty classroom.” So, between dishing up helpings from a menu topped by lemongrass chicken and pot stickers, the mayor and superintendent did just that, and answered a lot of questions.
This was also a bit of a showcase for city/district collaboration – one example: The city entourage that accompanied Harrell included Office of Sustainability and Environment director Jessyn Farrell, who explained the city’s grant-funded partnership with SPS helps provide “culturally relevant, fresh food.”
Examples of that were on the menu today too – persimmons and kiwis available for the taking, right next to a make-it-yourself taco/salad bar.
Our area’s school-board director Leslie Harris was there too. After the first two lunch periods, the mayor and superintendent joined Fazio-Young (a 31-year SPS veteran), the district’s culinary-services director Aaron Smith, and Denny principal Jeff Lam for a roundtable chat right in front of the cheerily decorated food-service area:
During the roundtable, everyone agreed that the food provided by schools like Denny is more than physical sustenance – it’s also emotional sustenance. Fazio-Young explained that she’s the first person that some of the students see every day, the ones who show up as early as 6:15 am and need a warm place to be inside. The superintendent and mayor, meantime, talked about city/district cooperation, and answered our question about what the students had asked them:
Smith also observed that serving breakfast and lunch is a form of education, too, giving a chance to learn where food comes from.
As the roundtable wrapped up, more students filtered into the Denny galleria, and eventually it was time for the dignitaries to depart.
What they received today was food for thought; tomorrow, they’ll be back in downtown offices, while Fazio-Young welcomes “my kids” back for another day.