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Stony Brook Spearheads Program for Healthier Fare in Westford Schools

Kids were thrilled with the healthier gourmet cuisine provided recently as part of the "Chefs Move to Schools" initiative, a program that parents and school officials hope to expand in the near future.

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.

Anastasia O'Malley October 09, 2012 at 06:02 PM
For anyone who wishes to learn more about the effort: The next Westford Healthy Kids Coalition Meeting is Wednesday 17 September 2012 @ 7:00 at First Parish -- on the common (48 Main Street -- next door to the library) Hope to see many good healthy food enthusiasts there.
K Raabe October 10, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Fantastic idea! We are talking about this idea tonight, introduce better options, create exiting food, let students choose healthy options. If you force, check how much is tossed, ask the WA students what they do with the forced fruit.
joseph mcgruff October 10, 2012 at 03:42 PM
WA is ranked #20-something in the state, I know alot of food is tossed (and probably could be donated to some local farms), but that is a very very good ranking. Gourmet lunches? Sounds like a very very pricey investment...
Alex Finnegan October 21, 2012 at 04:52 AM
I agree. If they are ranked #20 something in the state why are we messing with it. Why is damned neat the best no longer good enough anymore. You've got disgruntled teachers who you may choose to argue with me but got screwed because the town played a power move with the current economy (a brilliant move though, seriously) when the town said they have the money sitting in escrow for the steps, that they over hired teachers...because of sped mandates that still cannot be found or provided by anyone at any level of government (I'm starting to think they don't exist) and when you check the numbers, not only is our sped enrollment unbelievably low compared to similar towns, (with less resources though) but they are far less costly sped kids to teach or we wouldn't be able to do it with the 9%sped teachers we have as opposed to other towns 15-20%. Worrying about school lunches dropping from 20 something to 30 something in the state (using mcgruff's number) when the town is PULLING A BERNIE MADOFF level scam right in front of your eyes is just mind blowing to me. No disrespect meant if you want to improve school lunches, it's just not where I would be focusing my efforts right now. Let the kids eat organic, but the adults will swallow whatever the town feeds them....
Townie October 21, 2012 at 05:10 AM
The last laugh on the thumbscrews the town put to its teachers at the table will be next negotiation when the teachers are far better prepared for a looooong game of hardball, no contract first day of school hello work to rule
Alex Finnegan October 23, 2012 at 11:47 AM
If it were me, I would mount a publicity campaign starting with the budget, the averages, the numbers etc to show the town unequivocally that they are not spending an inordinate amount on teachers. In fact, it's peanuts in comparison to there towns with less means. If you give a damn, the question has to cross your mind, if our town is wealthier and has a higher tax burden (= more income) our teachers salary isn't breaking the bank, nor is their retirement, the parents are being asked to cover more and more school type programs, or at least "chip" in. Where is the money going? Seriously where is it going? It's easy to blame the teachers (who earn less per year than firefighters, cops, etc) But it's not them, I've looked. It's not the cops or firefighters either. Where is it going? The thing that gets me is everyone is so quick to get up in arms about a prop 2.5 over ride (and rightly so I think in many cases) yet their ire does not move them to see why it's needed or where it's going. The town will just say, it's insurance…but no one bothers to check and see, it's not insurance, it's needless spending that the town just has an addiction too. A new unmanned fire department is just an example. Granted it's just an idea, but that is where your money is going and then it's "sorry teachers, we'll get you next time" Any more of it and Moses himself will appear to lead the exodus I assure you.

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