Leigh Ann Bozung, and the Lakeside Baking Program

When you think of Farm to School and integrating fresh, healthy ingredients into school meals, you might not typically think of cookies and baked goods. But Leigh Ann Bozung, also known as “Annie”, is changing the way baked goods are served at Lakeside Unified School District (LUSD) cafeterias. Leigh Ann has built the district's baking program from the ground up, creating staple baked goods from fresh ingredients that both students and parents rave over. 

The need for a baker came from Child Nutrition Services (CNS) Director Sally Spero’s dedication to serve better quality baked goods for Lakeside students. Sally explains her reasoning, “Well, the ingredients [in baked goods] aren’t expensive, so I thought maybe we can bring someone in to bake for us. We’ll have control over ingredients so it will be fresh and taste better for the students.”

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Leigh Ann was eager for a role dedicated to serving students, “The transition into working in Child Nutrition was a huge shift in quality of life for me, it was everything I liked to do and what I was interested in."

Leigh Ann was eager for a role dedicated to serving students, “The transition into working in Child Nutrition was a huge shift in quality of life for me, it was everything I liked to do and what I was interested in."

Prior to her time working in a kitchen, Leigh Ann worked as a graphic designer until her mother encouraged her to pursue culinary school. “I always had kitchen jobs when I was growing up. When I decided to return to school, everything kind of clicked for me.” Before coming to LUSD, Leigh Ann worked in both fast and casual dining, high-end restaurants, and hospitality at hotels. Leigh Anne has since dedicated her work to learning about nutrition guidelines, portioning requirements, grain conversations, and how districts feed their students with fresh, quality ingredients. 

Lakeside is dedicated to providing baked goods which meet nutrition requirements and are baked with fresh ingredients rather than processed, packaged and reheated. Leigh Ann's busy day includes recording school breakfast information, organizing baked goods to serve with lunch, and preparing for supper distribution. The highlight of Leigh Anne’s work is the students. Often, kids will stop by the kitchen to visit with her. “It’s great to have that interaction with the population that you are serving,”

Leigh Ann remarks, “[In the restaurant business] you typically don’t get to talk with customers.” Now, Leigh Ann is a well-known celebrity to students, known for her delicious baked goods, and especially for her fan-favorite banana chocolate chip bread. 

Leigh Ann uses simple tools to create the fresh baked goods she serves, using particular yeast and flour to add flavor to the dough instead of using sugar. One strategy Leigh Ann uses when creating her baked goods is miniature chocolate chips in place of the larger variety. This not only keeps the sugar content of the cookie down, which parents love, but students also believe that the cookies have even more chocolate chips! When reflecting on the health of the baked goods she serves, Leigh Anne comments, “we want to teach the kids that the small portions can be very satisfying.”

Students visiting the kitchen love to watch the process of mixing big batches of dough, and to spend time with Leigh Ann the baker. While these visits tend to be brief, Leigh Ann treasures her short window with students, “You get to realize why you’re really here, which is to make sure that these kids get fresh food items throughout the day”. 

Students who visit Lakeside’s central kitchen are exposed to the scale at which the CNS team produces meals. Leigh Ann loves to showcase the equipment that allows her to produce baked goods for all 2,400 students in the district. Through these interactions with students, Leigh Ann hopes to inspire the students to be better connected with their food, “It’s more than just feeding the kids, we want them to eat, enjoy and value the food”.

To learn more about what's cooking in Lakeside, click here.

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