Let's Do Lunch
School-cafeteria food goes to the head of the class
If “you are what you eat,” then school lunches are especially important. Lunch helps students recuperate, refocus, and refuel. Making the midday meal nourishing can also help them perform at a high level throughout the afternoon. Unappetizing “mystery meat,” unhealthy deep-fried fish, and limp, gray vegetables have been 86’d in favor of foods that are fresh, delicious, and nutritious.
Thanks to top-notch dining services and healthy food choices in many private schools, lunch now has a place at the table. These dining services bring professional chefs and nutritionists who cater to the diverse palates of their young clientele, offering a mouth-watering array of dishes like salmon glazed with hoisin sauce and quinoa black-bean chili. Dining halls have also become valuable places for teaching, as schools strive to widen their environmental consciousness and shrink their carbon footprint.
Organizations like Sustainable Fare, SAGE, and Flik, to name a few, are transforming students’ eating experiences for the better. Kids are consuming “real” food, learning about where it comes from, and even how to grow or raise it. They are inspired to understand and enjoy their cafeteria cuisine. Stefan Davenport, director of dining services at New York City’s Friends Seminary, says, “It’s all a matter of introduction and exposure. The student body buys into supporting the local agriculture.”
SAGE Dining Services, whose clients include the prestigious Choate Rosemary Hall prep school in Wallingford, boasts 4,400 dishes and has partnered with more than 800 local and regional distributors to provide fresh, in-season ingredients. A “Meet the Farmer” program profiles various family-run operations that supply SAGE’s kitchens, fostering a sense of appreciation for the entire farm-to-fork process.
Flik dining service, which operates at Berkshire School, Rippowam Cisqua School, and The Harvey School, is based on whole-child well-being and offers high-quality meals and nutrition-education programs designed to give students the tools to make healthy choices.
Sustainable Fare has adopted a similarly holistic approach by working with institutions to create campus gardens. Its mission is to provide the best possible sustainable-food service available. Through relationships with local growers and businesses, it has developed a network of environmentally responsible partnerships.
Of course, the organic spinach and free-range, cage-free eggs needed to bake over a hundred servings of quiche do not come cheap. But the legacy of good eating habits to last a lifetime? Priceless.