It’s not every day that Stony Brook kids can get their hands on some healthy gourmet cuisine, but that was the case recently thanks in part to Westford Public Schools’ “Chefs Move to Schools” program.
Part of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, the program is part of a range of new additions to the Westford’s cafeterias following last year’s controversy over food safety concerns.
Stony Brook’s guest chef, Vic Tirrito of Fior D’Italia, is no stranger to patrons of the Westford Farmers’ Market, and Westford Public School Food Service director Patti Donoghue hope Tirrito can return for subsequent trips to various schools across the district in addition to other things that will help Westford’s students think more about eating healthier such as nutrition classes and a new outdoor garden for vegetables.
Although the Food Service department is entirely self-sustaining according to Donoghue, limiting its dependence on a district budget that has been through recent difficulties, the project also garnered assistance from local parents’ groups like the Healthy Kids Coaltion.
“This has been a great opportunity for the (us) to work with the schools system to get some healthier school lunches,” said Coalition spokesperson Heidi Tierney. “When kids have healthier meals, they actually learn better. They’re more aware in the classroom. They play harder and learn harder.”
Tierney explains that the Coalition has sponsored several fundraisers for the project in addition to planning another one this spring and helping Donoghue search for grant funding in the hopes of making the specialized menus a permanent fixture in all of Westford’s schools, something seventh grader Jackie Andry hopes can happen sooner rather than later.
“This food is really good,” said Andry. “This is so much better than our normal lunches.”
More information on the national initiative is available at the Let’s Move website.