Chefs in Schools Initiative Helps Boston Children Eat Healthy Meals

Filed in Food & Dining, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Local News by on September 3, 2009 1 Comment

Today kicks off the Boston Public Schools fall semester, and a growing initiative to improve school meals is underway. 8 Boston schools have implemented the Chefs in Schools program, which helps Boston children find healthy meals in their school cafeteria that limit processed foods and emphasize the important of nutritious fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Formerly known as Chef’s Initiative, this year the Chefs in Schools program will now expand to five new schools in areas ranging from Brighton to Roxbury. The initiative has proven to be incredibly successful in East Boston, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester, and this year will serve over 3000 students in the Boston area.

Other area schools have looked to teach students about healthy life choices in recent years. You may remember the Shape Up Somerville program, a highly successful program implemented between 2002-2005, which made fresh fruit available to all students for breakfast and lunch, and limited the availability of sugary cereals and ice cream in the cafeteria. Salads and vegetarian options were added to the menu, and a stimulating nutrition education program caught students’ attention and encouraged physical activity.

The Chef’s Initiative program starts up again just two days after the Institute of Medicine published a new report that requested local governments take action to make fresh food more available to residents. The IOM states that local governments greatly influence the choices of its residents to make healthy choices, and cites the Shape Up Somerville program as an example of successful initiatives that encouraged nutritional value and physical activity. This summer’s Boston Bounty Bucks program, which allowed Boston residents to double the value of their food stamps at 14 of the city’s 22 farmers’ markets, is a prime example of making Massachusetts-grown fruits and vegetables more available to those who normally wouldn’t have access to fresh, nutritious food. With the expansion of the Chefs in Schools program, the city of Boston is making it easier for all residents to make healthy choices, no matter their level of wealth.

A frequent contributor to DirectoryofBoston.com, Megan Johnson is originally from Connecticut, but has lived in Boston since age 18. She writes for MenuPages Boston, Butterfly Diary, Reinventing Beauty Magazine, and SweetTalk on the Spot. You can visit her website at www.meganjohnson.tumblr.com.

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