A toqued crusader who rode into Baltimore determined to transform the way 83,000 public schoolchildren ate lunch, chef Tony Geraci, the can-do subject of breezily upbeat docu “Cafeteria Man,” spent two years watching his innovative ideas get shunted to the bureaucratic backburner before throwing in the towel. A jovial David at every turn to front-office Goliaths, Geraci is the eloquent, occasionally outspoken engine that pulls this train of common-sense sincerity, institutional ennui and slow yet steady change. Too short for theatrical play, pithy pic will be embraced on the tube by nutritional advocates and concerned parents.
From the moment Geraci manages to source fresh fruit from a nearby farm, saving six cents a peach over tinned, syrupy slices from afar, the quest is on to obtain all raw materials from local growers and vendors. Though Geraci is ultimately frustrated into scaling back his involvement, if not his advocacy, his accomplishments include a 33-acre teaching farm, a popular vocational training program and nationwide momentum for awareness and change. Recognizing a natural when he sees one, helmer-lenser Richard Chisolm gives the activist a technically sturdy bully pulpit.