October 2011

We had a great time serving up local green beans, grown on Czajkowski Farm in Hadley, MA, for Local Lunch Thursday at the Martin Luther King K-8 in Dorchester last week.  Local Lunch Thursdays are part of the BPS Farm to School Initiative – every Thursday in all 44 of our cafeteria schools, local produce is served as part of the lunch menu.  We’ve served collard greens, onions, butternut squash, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, and even rutabaga!  Thanks to Arlene Whyte, the Cafeteria Manager at the King, and her entire staff for a wonderful lunch which also included roast chicken, whole wheat rolls, and fresh fruit:


Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), National Food Day aims to bring together Americans from diverse backgrounds – parents, teachers, and students; health professionals, community organizers, and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers, and eaters of all stripes – to advocate for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. 

Boston Public Schools is celebrating National Food Day with a special menu at all Cafeteria Schools featuring locally grown apples, from Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg, MA, as well as locally grown butternut squash and green beans from Czajkowski Farms in Hadley, MA.  We’ll also be serving baked pollock with lemon-butter, paprika, and parsley, a chef developed recipe which was featured at our back to school training for Cafeteria Managers. 

In addition to the special lunch menu, individual Boston Public Schools are marking the day with customized celebrations including local produce sampling and school garden activities. 

Remember the movie Super Size Me?  Morgan Spurlock is back again, this time promoting National Food Day in this short video:

Join us for lunch!  BPS Cafeterias will be serving local butternut squash, local green beans, local apples and baked pollock on Monday October 24th to commemorate the day. 

An excellent article in the Boston Globe Magazine this weekend looks what really goes into school lunch in Boston.  Click HERE to read the full story online.

Fox 25 Morning News interviewed Francis Storrs, the Assistant Editor at the Boston Globe Magazine, about the story on Monday.  Watch the video HERE!


Attention BPS Parents! 

Back to School means it is once again time to fill out the Boston Public Schools Meal Application.  Applications are used to determine eligibility for free and/or reduced price school meals. 

Applications, information, and instructions are available here in 8 different languages or from your school Cafeteria Manager or Attendant.  Applications are also available in 26 different languages from the USDA website.

School Meal Prices:

Breakfast: full price: $1.50 / reduced price $0.30 / free price: $0.00

Elementary Lunch: full price: $2.25 / reduced price $0.40 / free price: $0.00

Middle and High School Lunch: full price $2.50 / reduced price $0.40 / free price: $0.00

The Application Process:

  • All Parents, regardless of income, should complete a School Meal Application.
  • Meal Applications must be completed on an annual basis, which means even if you completed an application for your child last year, you must complete a new application this year.
  • By law, students may eat using their last year’s status for the first 30 operational days of school (October 20, 2011), or until a new application is submitted and processed.  After October 20th, if a new application has not been submitted, the student status will change to “Paid,” and she/he will have to pay for meals.   

Important Information about School Meal Applications:

  • Only ONE “Family Application for Meal Benefits” application for all children in your household is required.
  • Children in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP or TAFDC are automatically eligible for free meals regardless of household  income.  Please indicate your SNAP or TAFDC status on the Meal Application form. 
  • Any Foster Child in a household is automatically eligible for free meals, regardless of household income.  Please indicate your child’s foster care status on the Meal Application form.    
  • You may fill out a Meal Application at any time during the school year.  If your income changes or you lose your job, please fill out another application – your child may become eligible for free meals!
  • School Meal Applications are completely confidential.
  • New federal guidelines require only the last 4 digits of your social security number for the School Meal Application.  If you do not have a social security number, or you and/or your children are not US citizens, you should still fill out a School Meal Application – your children can be eligible for free and reduced price school meals regardless.    

Why Complete a Meal Application?

Meal Applications, in addition to facilitating free meals for children from low-income families, provide a myriad of benefits to children, schools, and communities:

  • Students perform better academically when they have eaten a healthy breakfast and lunch.
  • Schools qualify for funding from Title I and eRate when students who qualify for free and reduced cost meals complete applications.
  • Schools receive state funding based on information in the School Meal Applications.  This includes money for books, classroom furniture, school supplies, educational resources, and grant programs such as the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
  • Students can qualify for reduced price AP (Advanced Placement) and SAT testing.
  • Students can qualify for free after school programs.
  • Teachers may have their student loans waived if the work for a high free and reduced school. 


Contact the Department of Food and Nutrition Services at 617-635-9144, 6371, or 6372.

The Department of Food and Nutrition Service’s own Kim Szeto was honored yesterday with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project’s Blue Ribbon Award for excellence and leadership.  Kim is the Farm to School Coordinator for Boston Public Schools and has grown the program from a pilot project in only 6 cafeterias to a mainstay on the lunch line of all 44 BPS cafeterias.  Last year, Boston Public Schools served over 35000 pounds of local produce to students across the city.  Kim, via Farm to School and the BPS Local Lunch Thursday program, has brought a myriad of fresh Massachusetts farm produce to our schools including apples, butternut squash, rutabaga, fresh strawberries, and much more. 

Kelly Erwin, the Director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, made the award to Kim at the City Year Headquarters in downtown Boston.  Ms. Erwin praised Kim’s dedication and perseverance as well as her ability to connect with students.  Several speakers echoed this sentiment, including Barbara Ferrer, the Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission, who remarked “Farm to School needs a champion. Kim is that champion.”

Representatives from Farm to School partners across the city and state were in attendance at the ceremony including: The MA Department of Agriculture, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, The Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, The Boston Public Health Commission, The Mayor’s Office, Project Bread, and The Food Project, and The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. 

Kim Szeto accepted the Blue Ribbon Award on behalf of the entire department of Food and Nutrition Services, noting that Farm to School would not be possible without the immense support of everyone in our central office and all of our cafeterias. 

From all of us at the Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Congratulations Kim!  Thank-you for everything you have done over the past several years to make Farm to School a success in Boston Public Schools.  We are looking forward to another terrific year ahead.   

FFVP is a USDA funded snack program which provides an additional serving of fresh produce to elementary and K-8 students above and beyond school breakfast and school lunch.  For the 2011-2012 school years, BPS was awarded funding for 27 fortunate schools and will serve more than 12,000 students! 

What’s on the Menu?

On the menu for our first official week are Massachusetts grown gala apples, Massachusetts grown Asian pears, white nectarines, and fresh pineapple cups. 

FFVP aims to both increase the consumption of fresh produce among children as well as expose children to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables they may otherwise not have the opportunity to try.  Last year, students were able to try persimmons, fresh berries, clementines, cara cara oranges, and much more.  Likewise this year, FFVP will provide students with a wide variety of fresh snacks.

What’s New this Year?

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program has greatly expanded across the country and here in Boston, thanks to increased funding from the USDA.  In 2008 and 2009, the first years of FFVP, Boston Public Schools was awarded funding for only 4 schools – the Condon, the Dever, the McKay, and the Sarah Greenwood.  Last year, we received funding for 16 schools, and this year, we are thrilled to be working with 27 schools across the city.

In terms of menu items, a greater variety of cut vegetables will be available as part of the program this year.  We are looking forward to adding cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, and celery to the snack rotation. 


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity rates in the United States have doubled among children and tripled among adolescents over the last 20 years.  Today, almost 13 million children and teens are considered obese, and fewer than 20 percent of the nation’s children over the age of 2 eat the 5 recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  It has been estimated that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime

For low-income families, providing nutritious meals which contain a high number of fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis can be hugely challenging.  The World Health Organization (WHO), along with several smaller institutions, has shown that poverty is associated with an increased risk of developing diet related illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease.  A 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that inMassachusetts, childhood obesity rates are highest among low-income, African-American, Hispanic and Mexican-Americans, with socioeconomic status as the greatest indicator. 

FFVP seeks to change these statistics by providing regular access to fresh produce in low-income schools across the state and country.  To apply for the program, more than 50 percent of a school’s student population must qualify for free or reduced priced school lunch.  Awards are made annually by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with preference to schools with the greatest need.  In Boston, our schools far exceed this requirement; in many,  70, 80, or even 90 percent of students’ families meet the income eligibility for free and/or reduced priced school lunch.

For more information about FFVP, please visit the USDA website .