THE GLOBE’S editorial (“Fresh food: Public schools need chefs,’’ July 22, 2011) identifies the very real and pressing need for changes to public school cafeterias.
While trained chefs have become rock stars in the world of school food services for their ability to transform cafeterias, one isn’t necessary to improve the quality of food served to students. Catastrophes such as “Freezergate’’ should not make us discount our school’s food service directors, but push us to employ those who are willing to work hard, and then provide them with the support and resources needed to improve the quality of school meals.
As several regional school districts have shown, leadership, ingenuity, and the commitment to providing healthy meals are the keys to success. In the Chicopee Public School System, food service director Joanne Lennon provides over 100,000 nutritious meals to her students each month using recipes that contain fresh, local food. Her creativity, resilience and ability to maximize resources has lead to students’ consumption of more whole grains; their experimentation with new fruits and vegetables such as butternut squash and pomegranates; the elimination of 90 percent of sugary sodas and packaged snacks; and a new Nutrition Club for students who are interested in learning about healthy eating.
As a father of three and someone who works in the health sector, I believe that chefs are a great choice but not our only option for healthy, nutritious food in our school cafeterias.
Community Service Program Director
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation