Monday, March 19th The Boston Collaborative for Food & Fitness (BCFF) in partnership with Boston Public Schools (BPS) hosted a panel discussion on the State ofSchool Food i nBoston. The panelists included Michael Peck, new Director of BPS Food & Nutrition Services; Shamil Mohammed, Deputy Director of BPS Food & Nutrition Services; Randy Davis, Regional Manager for Whitson’s Culinary Group (BPS’ satellite meal provider); Jennie Hall, Cafeteria Manager at East Boston High School; and Alexandra Emmott, Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program Manager for BPS. The discussion was facilitated by Kim Szeto, Farm to School Coordinator for BPS, who co-chairs the BCFF School Food Subcommittee with Jose Masso, Project Manager for BCFF.
The event was held at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury and drew a diverse crowd of more than 50 attendees. The audience was primarily composed of high school aged students from across the city, representing a wide array of youth organizations and schools, as well as interested parents, teachers, and school administrators.
The panel discussed both Boston’s school food successes, such as the Farm to School Initiative, as well as challenges, such as short lunch periods and new Federal regulations. Audience members were then invited to ask questions of the panel which covered a wide range of topics including recent media coverage of “Pink Slime” beef, food waste, teacher meals, portion sizes, youth advocacy opportunities, vegetarian and vegan options, the cafeteria environment, and culturally appropriate school meals.
The BPS Farm to School team used the panel event to debut and sample a new a la carte item – local carrots with homemade hummus – which we plan to pilot in two schools this spring. A la carte items are snacks or meals sold separately from the school breakfast and lunch program, such as potato chips. The crowd responded overwhelmingly positively to the carrots and hummus. In fact, we conducted a simple poll asking attendees what price they would pay for the package – responses ranged from $0.10 to $ 1.50 and averaged to $0.82. Look for carrots and hummus on the a la carte menu at East Boston High and Mission Hill K-8 next month, priced competitively at only $0.75!