December 2011

The Rogers Middle School in Hyde Park launched parfaits this month as part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 breakfast program.  Margaret Palmisano, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team have been turning out 100 parfaits every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  Students have a choice of either peach or strawberry combined with low-fat yogurt, blueberries, and cinnamon granola.  So far, the feedback from students has been fantastic; in fact, the student council is planning a series of promotional posters to help publicize this new breakfast option. 

Thanks to the entire Rogers School team for a job well done! 


Boston Public Schools is delighted to welcome Michael R. Peck as the new Director of the Department of Food and Nutrition Services.  Mr. Peck brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to Boston Public Schools, with over 15 years experience in public school nutrition programs, food services software, and the culinary arts.

Most recently, Mr. Peck served as the Director of Food Services for Pittsburgh Public Schools from 2007 to 2011, and just prior as the Deputy Director of Food Services for District of Columbia Public Schools from 2006 to 2007.  Among Mr. Peck’s many accomplishments in Pittsburgh, he increased both lunch participation (by 7.8%) and breakfast participation (by 32.8%), and was nationally recognized by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) for effectively reaching low-incomes students.  In addition to driving participation, Mr. Peck also implemented Universal Free Breakfast at all schools and early childhood centers.  Perhaps most notably during his time in Pittsburgh, Mr. Peck improved the quality of school meals by limiting  fat, salt, and sugar; eliminating fried foods, trans-fats, bovine growth hormones, artificial colors and sweetener; increasing whole-grains, fiber, whole-muscle meal, and vegetarian options; and serving only skim or 1% milk.

Mr. Peck holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Food and Nutrition and Dietetics from Framingham State University and a Certificate in Culinary Arts from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.  A Boston area native, Mr. Peck began his school food service career in the Brookline Public School System, where he was the Coordinator of Food Services from 1996 to 1999, and the Director of Food Services from 1999 to 2003.  From Brookline, Mr. Peck honed his technical expertise with a move to the software industry, as the TrackNOW Project Manager for PCS Revenue Controls, Inc., a company which develops food services software for the K-12 education market. 

On behalf of all of us at Boston Public Schools, we welcome Michael Peck.  We are confident that under his expert leadership, the Department of Food and Nutrition Services will not only continue its legacy of excellence, but also grow and change to meet future challenges. 

Boston Public Schools (BPS) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) hosted a display and spoke with attendees during the opening reception at the BPS Health and Wellness Task Force program on December 13.  More than 250 community leaders – educators, parents, health providers, non-profit partners, elected officials, and funders — gathered that morning to talk and learn about strategies for eliminating health disparities and closing achievement gaps in the Boston Public Schools. 

The FNS display centered on the department’s mission to fuel academic excellence by providing safe and nutritious meals and promoting wellness in and equitable customer-focused manner.  We highlighted several FNS initiatives:

The Farm to School Initiative:  Through this program, locally grown produce has become increasingly popular with Boston Public School students.  Last year, more than 35,000 pounds of local produce was served!  The Local Lunch Thursday program now operates in all 44 BPS cafeteria schools, bringing MA grown produce to lunch trays across the district.

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP):  FFVP is a USDA funded initiative which provides fresh produce snacks to elementary and K-8 students in Boston and across the country.  The program operates in the district’s most needy schools, not only providing students an additional serving of fresh fruits or vegetable daily, but also exposing them to items with which they may be unfamiliar, like fresh pineapple, persimmons, and clementines.  The program has expanded from 4 schools to 27 schools over the last 3 years. 

The Fuel Up to Play 60 Breakfast Program:  With the help of an important grant, FNS is able to offer an alternate breakfast — which may be Grab N Go, Breakfast in the Classroom, fruit-yogurt smoothies, or yogurt-fruit parfaits — in 25 schools across all grade levels.  Breakfast participation, which is also enhanced by universal free breakfast in a number of these schools, is up more than 10 percent with the support of this program.  In fact, 101Boston schools serve universal free breakfast.

The Salad Bars to Schools Initiative:  Over the past 2 years, the Department of Food and Nutrition Services has launched salad bars in 5 high schools across the city, most recently at East Boston High andBostonArtsAcademy.  The salad bars have been hugely successful, and are an excellent vehicle with which to increase students’ consumption of fresh vegetables. 

Every Thursday, all BPS Cafeteria Schools serve up locally grown Massachusetts produce as part of the Farm to School Initiative.  Over the past few weeks, our Farm to School Team has visited schools on Local Lunch Thursday to sample produce and talk with students about the benefits of eating local.  Here are a few photos of our most recent visits:

We served up local broccoli at Hennigan Elementary School on Thursday November 3rd.  Paula Flaherty, the Cafeteria Manager encourages her students to eat their veggies by challenging them to show off their muscles!


Locally grown bosc pears were on the menu at the Timilty Middle School on Thursday November 10th.  Students LOVED the sweet pears served up by Jerrydene Odom, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team.

On Thursday November 17th, we visited McCormack Middle School to sample locally grown butternut squash as part of the school’s Thanksgiving meal.  Dale Feeney, the Cafeteria Manager, roasted the squash with salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little brown sugar – delicious!

Last week, on December 1st, students at Orchard Gardens K-8 sampled coleslaw prepared by Kathy Carney, the Cafeteria Manager, and her entire team.  The coleslaw is made with fresh Massachusetts grown cabbage and carrots.  We heard scores of stories about a recent fourth grade field trip to The Farm School in Athol, MA as we chatted with students about the vegetables on their plates.  The field trip clearly left a lasting impression on everyone and helped the students make the farm to table connection. 

Last week, Boston Public Schools launched salad bars in two high schools: Boston Arts Academy / Fenway High School and East Boston High School.

At Boston Arts Academy /  Fenway High School, the Salad Bar is available Monday through Thursday, and so far serving over 120 students daily.  Students are able to select their favorite vegetables along with protein choices of turkey, chicken, hummus, ham, and cheeses.  A variety of low-fat dressings are available, along with whole grain rolls and pita bread. 

Lynder Thomas and her staff are very excited about this new addition to their menu and thrilled with the feedback from students.  The administrative and custodial staff is also very enthusiastic and cooperative and has worked with Debra Korzec, Field Coordinator, and the entire Department of Food and Nutrition Services in making this new addition a success!

Over at East Boston High School, the salad bar initiative was initially undertaken by the Healthy Hood Club, a youth organization which was launched last year by Cait Van Damm and Alison Smizer of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.  The Healthy Hood Club applied to the Salad Bars to Schools Foundation last spring for the $2500.00 needed to purchase a salad bar for their school. 

In a surprising turn of events, the Salad Bars to Schools Foundation approved more salad bars than they had money to fund, meaning that East Boston High and the Healthy Hood Club would need to find alternative funding to make the salad bar a reality at their school. 

The Healthy Hood Club turned to Cafeteria Manger, Jennie Hall, and Field Supervisor, Patty Courteau, for help.  In collaboration with the school administration along with Shamil Mohammed, the Interim Director of Food and Nutrition Services at BPS, Jennie and Patty were able to set up a self-service “salad line” with equipment already available in the school cafeteria. 

So far, the salad line at East Boston High School has been a tremendous success.  Over 200 students were served the first day, and that number is on the rise!