Improving the quality of school meals in low-income school districts
Healthy school food matters
Nearly every food-insecure child in Massachusetts attends a public school. That's why there is no better place, than schools, to ensure kids who are hungry are receiving healthy food to eat, every day. Through our Chefs in Schools initiative, Project Bread works with schools to serve better quality, healthier food in their breakfast and lunch programs.
Did you know that half of all public school students in Massachusetts eat the food served in their cafeteria every day? For more than 400,000 kids, school meals make up more than half of their daily calories. Their diet has a significant impact on their health, behavior, and their academic performance. That’s why since 2006, Project Bread has been improving the quality of school food in low-income school districts across the state.
- Creating a campaign for change. Replacing menu items and persuading kids to try new foods does not seem that challenging. But creating lasting change in a school’s food service department is surprisingly complex. Professional chefs are able to approach school food from both a business and culinary lens, while providing leadership in, and out of, the kitchens to start making permanent changes.
- Training & skills development. Cooking skills, equipment use, time management, food storage, ordering, inventory control, and selling better choices…our chefs train the school food staff on everything they will need to know to continue the work after they are gone for lasting change.
- Student taste-testing. It only helps if the students eat it! That is why taste-tests are so important. New recipes aren’t added to the lunch menu until they have been perfected through student feed-back and get the final thumbs up. And since they’ve already had it, they are more likely to choose it when it shows up on the menu.
- Building healthy habits. Kids and teens who eat fruits and vegetables are more likely to make lifelong healthy eating choices. For students who have limited or no access to fresh foods at home, Chefs in Schools is essential to meeting their nutritional needs as well as building healthy eating habits.
Impact of our work: 2015-2017
- 86,000 students have access to improved quality school food in 151 schools
Our Work: 2018/19 School Year
Project Bread is partnered with five MA school districts this year to implement district-wide changes to improve the quality of their school meals:
- New Bedford
- Codman Academy (Dorchester)
For school food service staff or parents and community members looking to make healthy changes to your school or districts breakfast and lunch programs, visit www.transformschoolfood.org for Chefs in Schools recipes and resources.