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Mayor Walsh Announces Expansion of My Way Cafe School Meals Program in Boston Public Schools
On Wednesday, April 24, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the second phase of expansion of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) My Way Cafe food and nutrition program to 25-30 additional schools in Dorchester and South Boston thanks to a $7.9 million investment in the fiscal year 2020 capital budget. The announcement was made at the Kenny Elementary School in Dorchester.
My Way Cafe began as a pilot program at four schools in East Boston in the spring of 2017, and since then has expanded to 29 schools in East Boston, Roxbury, and Mattapan. The neighborhoods were selected based on data showing areas of the city with the highest need for better access to nutritious food. The program has been launched and operated in collaboration with the Shah Family Foundation.
“All young people in Boston deserve access to fresh, and delicious food to make sure they’re healthy and doing well in school,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “My Way Cafe is a program that promotes students making healthy choices that will last long after they walk out of the cafeteria. I am proud that this public-private partnership is making a big difference in the health and food habits of our students across the city.”
Schools are being retrofitted with new kitchens to become My Way Cafes and cook and serve food on-site for students. With two-thirds of Boston’s public schools constructed before World War II at a time when students often walked home for lunch, many school buildings do not currently cook food on-site and instead provide prepackaged meals.
“As we begin to modernize our school buildings across the district, the expansion of My Way Cafe provides us a strong investment in our future,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “It’s important that we continue to plan to support our students in all facets of their school experience, which includes taking care of their basic needs.”
One of the hallmarks of My Way Cafe is that all students have a choice in what type of meal they would like to eat. My Way Cafe offers deconstructed meals, meaning the main ingredients of the meal are separated and students choose which food items they would like on their plate. There are also various options to better reflect students’ cultures and nutritional requirements.
My Way Cafe menu items are tailored to meet the taste buds of young students while using clean labels and natural ingredients. Some menu items this month include beef and black bean tacos, egg frittata with turkey sausage, and pulled barbecue chicken; along with daily offerings of entree-sized salads, turkey and cheese sandwiches, and Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches.
“So many of our students rely on school lunch as their only well-rounded meal of the day,” said BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille. “It’s crucial that we are not only providing students the best nutrition possible, but building in healthy eating habits by providing an element of choice.”
Since 2014, BPS has provided meals to all students free of charge. The BPS Food and Nutrition Services Department, which has about 500 employees, provides about 21,000 breakfast meals, 35,000 lunch meals, and 5,000 after-school meals per day, serving nearly 11 million meals per year.
“The Shah Family Foundation is thrilled that My Way Cafe is continuing to expand to more BPS schools,” said Jill Shah, president of the Shah Family Foundation. “As My Way Cafe provides more and more students access to fresh and delicious food, it is helping students make lifetime healthy habits and ensure that they’re successful in school.”