HSC School Food Efforts Featured on “Chicago’s Very Own”

December 21, 2007

by Tara Kennon, HSC Writer & Publications Coordinator

Healthy Schools Campaign’s work with Noble Street Charter Schools to provide healthy, freshly prepared meals to students (and teachers!) is featured on an upcoming segment of “Chicago’s Very Own” on WGN (channel 9) at 9pm on Friday, Dec. 28.

HSC is partnering with the Noble Network of Charter Schools to work on transforming school food from an entity in which meals are composed of packaged and pre-made items into one in which meals are freshly prepared, include fresh fruits and vegetables, meet USDA nutrition guidelines and, importantly, appeal to students.

Jean Saunders, HSC’s director of school wellness, worked with leaders at Noble Street and other Chicago public charter schools – including Namaste Charter School and Perspectives Charter School – to help the schools develop efficient systems that allow them to provide freshly prepared healthy food for their students at a reasonable cost. HSC facilitated meetings where school leaders shared their varied experiences in both the logistics and the big picture of implementing a healthy school food program.

Noble Street came to the discussions with the goal of making a significant food transformation and, with the support of HSC and other school leaders in the group, has definitely achieved this goal.

Student participation in the lunch program has increased dramatically, with students voicing their approval of the tasty new food choices. Even teachers – who previously had almost zero participation in the lunch program – are regularly lining up to get their lunch in the cafeteria.

As charter schools, Noble Street and others in the group have flexibility in many areas of operation including the option of going outside the district’s established food service management contract for their school food programs.

“The leaders at Noble Street did this because it’s the right thing to do,” Saunders said. “It shows a lot of foresight and leadership to use the flexibility that charter schools have to make this type of significant change. With the new food program, they’re helping students live healthier lives – and in a very practical way, they’re also showing other schools that this type of fresh, healthy meal program can be a reality.”

Be sure to check out “Chicago’s Very Own” on Dec. 28 to learn more!