Superintendent joins students for lunch to celebrate healthy eating
BOSTON – Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson joined high school students for lunch recently at the South Boston Education Complex. On the menu was fresh roasted zucchini, prepared by cafeteria staff and grown at Czajkowski Farms in Hadley, Massachusetts. The lunch, which celebrated Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week, highlighted the importance of healthy eating and supporting local farmers.
“The link between good nutrition and academic performance cannot be emphasized enough, and we want all of our students to be ‘living well and learning well,’” said Dr. Johnson. “We continue to work to make our school meals even healthier and more appealing to students, while at the same time finding new ways to help children develop healthy eating habits that will last for life.”
Coordinated by the nonprofit, Amherst-based Massachusetts Farm to School Project with support from the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week encourages schools and colleges across the state to purchase, serve, and highlight fresh locally grown food on their menus.
In the past year, Boston Public Schools has expanded efforts to promote healthy eating habits among students both in school and out, including the following:
• Farm to School Program: Working in partnership with The Food Project, Executive Chef Stefano Cordova of Bertucci’s Restaurants, Costa Fruit and Produce, The Farm School and other Massachusetts and New England farmers, schools feature a different locally grown fresh vegetable or fruit each month. The program started last year, when students at participating schools enjoyed fresh corn-on-the-cob, collard greens and butternut squash among other items. Participating sites include the South Boston Educational Complex, Dorchester Education Complex, Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School, Edwards Middle School (Charlestown), Hennigan Elementary School (Jamaica Plain), and Young Achievers K-8 School (Mattapan).
• Chefs in Schools: This year the Chefs in Schools program expanded from three to eight sites, more than doubling its capacity. The program features executive Chef Kirk Conrad (a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and former executive chef for corporate chefs at Talbots’ corporate headquarters), who uses his extensive experience in food service production and cafeteria management to create recipes and train food services staff to prepare healthier meals that are also appealing to students. His approach includes incorporating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and using raw ingredients and low-fat cooking techniques, such as roasting and sautéing. Approximately 3,100 students are directly served by this program at the following schools: Umana Middle School Academy (East Boston), Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School (Dorchester), Curley K-8 School (Jamaica Plain), Edison K-8 School (Brighton), Higginson / Lewis K-8 School (Roxbury); TechBoston Academy (Dorchester); and Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School (Fenway).
• Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program: Funded by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is designed to expose children to a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables through special snacks served at school outside of regular meal times. Participating schools include the S. Greenwood K-8 School (Dorchester), Dever Elementary School (Dorchester), Condon Elementary School (South Boston), and McKay K-8 School (East Boston).
Superintendent Johnson cited additional Boston Public Schools’ efforts throughout the district to promote health and wellness among all students. In 2006, the Boston School Committee adopted an ambitious Wellness Policy that directs schools to help students maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Programs include a free universal breakfast program and improvements to the snacks and beverages available to students during the school day.PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Carol R. Johnson and Akim L., of South Boston, a junior at Odyssey High School, enjoy a special luncheon featuring locally grown vegetables in honor of Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week.