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.