Fresh food program expanded at Boston Public Schools
Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang today joined students, faculty, and staff at the Bradley Elementary School in East Boston to celebrate the launch of My Way Cafe, a program that will fund the construction of kitchens in 30 district schools and increase the number of students who can eat fresh, healthy meals cooked on-site.
My Way Cafe is an expansion of a successful pilot program that utilizes a Hub and Spoke kitchen model, which began at four schools in East Boston last spring. This program is the result of a partnership between the Shah Family Foundation and BPS Food and Nutrition Services Department, with design and construction work facilitated by the City of Boston Public Facilities Department.
"Boston is leading the way in making sure our students have access to fresh, healthy food," said Mayor Walsh. "The success of this program in East Boston serves as a model for the rest of the city. Thanks to our key partners, we're now able to bring this program to 30 schools. Choices at our schools need to work for all families and students, many of whom depend on school meals. With this program, we will continue to create happy, successful students, while listening to the needs of our communities."
The Hub and Spoke model, which will continue with My Way Cafe, utilizes schools with already-constructed in-service kitchens to prep food for nearby schools that do not have such kitchens. In addition, schools that do not have in-service kitchens are being retrofitted with hybrid-model kitchens to cook and serve food on-site for students. Hub and Spoke used East Boston High School's in-service kitchen to prep food for the Bradley Elementary, Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary, and East Boston Early Education Center; and those schools were outfitted with hybrid-model kitchens to cook and serve the food on-site.
"The rapid expansion of this effective program has been extraordinary," said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. "It's incredible to see public and non-profit partners work together toward a common goal of making sure our students have healthy and tasty food options."
Chef Ken Oringer, owner of Toro, Uni Boston, and other well known restaurants, helped teach food service staff how to cook new menu items, and was on hand to prepare fresh, healthy lunches for Bradley students on Monday.
The rate of students eating school-provided food in this new program has increased by between seven and 15 percent per school.
One of the hallmarks of My Way Cafe is that students have a choice in what type of meal they would like to eat -- marking a step forward from traditional school cafeteria set-ups.
"Not only are we providing better access to healthy food, but more students are eating the food because it's delicious and they have a choice," said Superintendent Chang. "The meals provided at school are often the most healthy meals students receive. It's important that we provide healthy and delicious options for our students everyday."
"The Shah Family Foundation is thrilled to support the transformation of school food in Boston," said Jill Shah, president of the Shah Family Foundation. "Moving from pre-packaged food to fresh local food, including a full salad bar everyday, will provide more nutrition for our students and more jobs for our community. The successful pilot in East Boston demonstrated significantly higher student participation rates with substantially reduced costs. We look forward to partnering with Mayor Walsh to eventually expand this project across the entire city over the next few years."
In Mayor Walsh's inaugural address in January, he announced that the pilot program would will expand to all Boston Public Schools, in partnership with the Shah Foundation. By this fall, 30 schools across the city will have new or renovated kitchens producing fresh, nutritious food. The renovated kitchens are a part of BuildBPS, Boston's $1 billion plan to upgrade schools across the district. The City's Public Facilities Department will renovate the kitchens in the following schools, which will all participate in the My Way Cafe program.
1. Samuel Adams Elementary School (East Boston)
2. Dante Alighieri Montessori School (East Boston)
3. Boston Day and Evening Academy (Roxbury)
4. Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School (Roxbury)
5. David A. Ellis Elementary School (Roxbury)
5. Ellison Parks Early Education School (Mattapan)
6. Fenway High School (Roxbury)
7. Curtis Guild Elementary School (East Boston)
8. Nathan Hale Elementary School (Roxbury)
9. Haynes Early Education Center (Roxbury)
10. Rafael Hernandez K-8 School (Roxbury)
11. Henry L. Higginson School (Roxbury)
12 Higginson Lewis K-8 School (Roxbury)
13. Samuel Mason Elementary School (Roxbury)
14. Donald McKay K-8 School (East Boston)
15. Ellis Mendell Elementary School (Roxbury)
16. Mildred Avenue K-8 School (Mattapan)
17. Madison Park Technical Vocational High School (Roxbury)
18. John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics & Science (Roxbury)
19. Hugh R. O'Donnell Elementary School (East Boston)
20. Orchard Gardens K-8 School (Roxbury)
21. James Otis Elementary School (East Boston)
22. Charles H. Taylor Elementary School (Mattapan)
23. Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School (Roxbury)
24. Mario Umana Academy (East Boston)
25. Young Achievers Science & Math Pilot K-8 (Mattapan)
Kitchen renovations completed last summer:
1. Manassah E. Bradley Elementary School (East Boston)
2. East Boston Early Education Center (East Boston)
3. East Boston High School (East Boston)
4. Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School (East Boston)
5. Mattapan Early Elementary School (Mattapan)
In addition to the expansion of the Hub and Spoke model and the implementation of My Way Cafe in Boston Public Schools, Mayor Walsh continues to demonstrate his commitment to providing fresh, healthy food to Boston's children by establishing new programs to increase food access across the city. Last summer, the Mayor's Office of Food Access, BPS and the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics piloted "Lunch on the Lawn," which served young people 18 or under lunch at City Hall during the summer months at no cost. Over 1,000 meals were served at this site during its first summer. The Mayor's Office of Food Access also piloted a "Books and Bites" summer meals site with the Boston Public Library, Project Bread, and the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, and served over 2,000 meals at the Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library.
In January, the City of Boston received a $150,000 grant from the United States Conference of Mayors to fund the BOSFoodLove program, a partnership between The Mayor's Office of Food Access, The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, and BPS aimed at ensuring every child receiving healthy meals to fuel their school performance and success.
Last month, the Walsh Administration sought applications for FoodCorps members to be part of the BOSFoodLove program at BPS. FoodCorps members will emphasize student and parent engagement, solicit input for the school food programs, ensure that all BPS students have access to free, healthy food that meets their dietary needs and preferences, and support their ability to perform well in school. Additionally, FoodCorp members will provide educational lessons to students around healthy food options.