Unanimous approval for new food plan

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Students get lunch.

Students get lunch.

Davin Tackabury

Davin Tackabury

Students get lunch.

Addy Hayman and Emma Searle

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In a unanimous vote by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee, a proposal promising to revamp next year’s school meals has passed.

When students learned that the school’s contract with Chartwells was ending after this school year, they got involved. Junior class president Emily Gazzaniga made improving meals at MVRHS a key part of her campaign platform and upon winning worked closely with culinary arts teacher Kevin Crowell, who headed the group that came up with the new proposal.

According to its mission statement, the proposal is trying to “develop a self-operating cafeteria producing a scratch-cooked meals plan that nourishes the school community and reimagines the future of our school meals.”

In a school survey conducted last spring, 2 percent of the MVRHS population said they were extremely satisfied with school lunches; 26.3 percent said they were extremely dissatisfied; and 55.4 percent said it would be very likely that they would buy lunch more often if the quality and taste improved.

In addition to increasing the nutritional value of the school’s meals, the new plan aims to increase student participation. Culinary arts students can participate in menu planning and the production of school breakfasts and lunches. Students in the horticulture program grow food for school meals. The CTE business program could strategize ways to promote and encourage participation in the new meals programs.

School committee chairman Kris O’Brien said, “One of the things most interesting to me is the educational opportunities that exist when approving this proposal.”

Junior Jeremy Reagan said, “As a culinary student, I think it would give us better experience for the future having to cook meals that are actually being consumed and enjoyed by our classmates.”

Speaking as a father, business owner, chef, caterer, and culinary arts teacher at MVRHS, Mr. Crowell said, “The goal is to give every Island family the same opportunity to raise well-nourished, thriving kids.”

Other long-term goals outlined in the proposal include moving toward a zero waste policy, obtaining the funding to purchase a food truck to be operated by culinary arts students, tapping into local farms and suppliers, and getting involved in a large-scale cleaning program.

From a financial standpoint, this proposal presents lucrative new pathways to increase school revenue by utilizing the MVRHS kitchen for events such as monthly community dinners, to supplement booster club activities, and to cater school events.

The school committee’s approval is the first step, but the towns still need to certify the year’s budget before this proposal is set in motion.

 

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