School districts across the country are finding out that improving cafeteria food is never as simple as planting a garden. The bigger and poorer the district, the longer it takes to get anything done, and even smaller, well-funded districts struggle to make real change. That’s why, when Baltimore City Public Schools hired a new director of food and nutrition in 2008, food advocates watched eagerly to see how reform would play out there. Even Michael Pollan was quoted saying, “If Baltimore can pull this off, it will be a sign that the effort is worth making.”

Tony Geraci, Baltimore’s new “cafeteria man,” had his work cut out for him, and the gung-ho way he dove into the job caused no small amount of controversy in this city of 82,000 public-school students. When he stepped down from his position two years later, Geraci was accused of failing to live…

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