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January 30, 2017
Chefs in Schools Program Puts Spotlight on Healthy Eating

Crosby Elementary Principal Aaron Dean and Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer share Chefs in Schools samples with students.

Boston, MA – January 27, 2017 – What sets apart Project Bread’s Chefs in Schools [CIS] program is the successful relationship that its Chef Educators have with cafeteria kitchens and the school’s student population. Mayor Linda M. Tyer, school district officials and representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, a program sponsor, were on hand Thursday for an interactive cooking demonstration featuring chefs Sam Icklan and Guy Koppe, with an assist from Crosby Elementary School Principal Aaron Dean. 

“We know that healthy eating first starts with having an understanding of what that entails. The students at Crosby had a really great opportunity to see that up close as they watched the chefs prepare a healthy and tasty meal, which they later enjoyed.  It was truly refreshing to see their excitement and interest in response to this fun lesson, and reinforces our work in the community around health and well-being,” said Mayor Tyer. 

Project Bread has long understood that school meals are a critical source of healthy food, capable of having a significant impact on the nutritional lives of low-income children who rely on school meals for more than half of their daily nutrient needs. This is why Project Bread has partnered with school nutrition departments since 2006 to support their efforts to provide healthy food that kids will actually eat. Through the CIS program, Project Bread’s professional chefs train school nutrition departments on culinary, presentation, and marketing skills to help districts prepare and promote nutritious, kid-friendly, and USDA approved foods. 

Last year, the State of Massachusetts awarded Project Bread funding to expand the CIS program to six communities throughout Massachusetts, serving nearly 20,000 students. However, the state funding for this important initiative was cut for the current fiscal year. The Chefs in Schools program now relies on the commitment of generous sponsors including Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, a long-time partner of Project Bread and an early advocate of the Chefs in Schools program. 

“Chefs in Schools is a risk-free investment in the future of Pittsfield students. It's a privilege to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts on this project that boosts the health and well-being of young people,” said Ellen Parker, Executive Director of Project Bread. 

"At Blue Cross we're passionate about healthy living—whether that's supporting healthy eating, encouraging active lifestyles, or promoting access to healthy environments,” said Jeff Bellows, Vice President Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs at Blue Cross. “Project Bread and its Chefs in Schools program is such a natural partner for us in Pittsfield given their great work introducing new, healthy food options to kids."

Fondly referred to by the students as "Chef Sam," Project Bread’s Icklan spends about six weeks working with each school's cafeteria staff to create healthy meals that not only taste good to the students, but are good for them. In the Pittsfield Public School district, more than half of the 6,000 students qualify for free and reduced price meals. Students and staff alike are enjoying the healthy benefits of having “Chef Sam” in the district. 

About Chefs in Schools 

Since 2006, Project Bread has partnered with public school districts across the state to provide direct support to school nutrition department in their effort to serve healthy food, which kids will actually eat – while staying on budget. Through the Chefs in Schools program, Project Bread’s professional chefs train cafeteria staff on culinary preparation and marketing skills to help districts prepare and promote nutritious, kid-friendly, USDA approved foods.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ( is a community-focused, tax-paying, not-for-profit health plan headquartered in Boston. We are the trusted health plan for hundreds of employers and thousands of members in Western Massachusetts. We are committed to working with others in a spirit of shared responsibility to make quality health care affordable, and to always put our members first. We have been committed to the community since our founding in 1937, and our corporate citizenship is focused on promoting Healthy Living—including healthy eating, healthy active lifestyles, and healthy environments.

About Project Bread

Project Bread is the only statewide anti-hunger organization committed to providing people of all ages, cultures, and walks of life with sustainable, reliable access to nutritious food. From community-based meal programs, to early childhood and school nutrition initiatives, to improved access to farm-to-table resources, Project Bread approaches hunger as a complex problem with multiple solutions. With funds raised through The Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country, and other sources, Project Bread pioneers innovative initiatives and supports effective programs to eradicate hunger in our state. The Walk’s flagship sponsor is Arnold Bread; its leadership sponsors include Arbella Insurance Foundation, Raytheon Company, Eos Foundation, and Capital One. For more information, visit,, or


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