Chicopee Public Schools Food Services has a longstanding history of being one of the most progressive K-12 food service programs in Massachusetts. Since 2003, Chicopee Food Services has been sourcing local foods from Hadley, Masschusetts (Czajkowski Farms) and we have been committed to serving our kids the most healthy and nutritious meals that we can.
In 2014, we were selected by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation as the only K-12 food service program in New England to receive a Kendall Grant. This means will be sourcing as much local food as possible in a cost effective manner, because this translates to healthier (more nutrient dense) meals for our kids and a stronger and more resilient New England food system.
In just the first two months of this project, we have done the following:
- Hired a grant-funded Sustainable Food Systems Coordinator (Madison Walker, M.S. in Sustainability Science from UMass Amherst.)
- Created a Strategic Action Plan facilitated by Bill Bean, President, Green Planning and Coaching
- Begun a Marketing and Communications Plan (which includes this website!) The communications and community engagement piece is being coordinated by another project consultant, Ryan Harb, Founder of Beyond Sustainability Consulting.
- Redesigned the September and October menus to incorporate more local and healthy foods, whenever possible.
- Implemented new recipes that we have already begun taste-testing with some of our kids.
...And we are only getting started!
This project is very exciting and it is only the beginning. The reason we are doing this, based on all the conversations we've had, is that this is all about the children. We must feed our kids healthy foods when they come to school and are expected to learn and pay attention in a classroom all day. Food plays such an integral role in their learning capacity, mood, and their overall health and happiness.
We (Chicopee Food Services) have an obligation to serve the best quality food possible for all of our 7,800 kids in order to feed and nourish them each day. We hope this will drive life-long healthy change in the students’ eating habits, improve their overall health, and increase their potential to become successful into their adult years.
Even better (a Win-Win scenario) the fresh and locally sourced foods nourishes a larger social, economic, and environmental landscape that supports a high quality of life for everyone in the entire community, for generations to come.
This project is really the beginning of what we think is possible: a shift away from the broken, unsustainable, unjust and exploitative industrial food system that is currently in place. In turn, we are creating a clean, fair, just and sustainable regional food system that is good for everyone.
As far as K-12 schools go, we want the movement to start right here in Chicopee. Together, we can make this happen... but it will takes a community effort to make the big impact that we hope. Let us know if you are inspired after reading this (post a comment below!) and please share this project with others. By spreading the word, you'll be speaking volumes about the new and regenerative food system that you want to see created.
Please contact us if you want to get involved. We want as many active participants in this project as possible. Thanks for reading and check back for weekly updates on this page!
-Ryan Harb (honored to be part of the ChicopeeFRESH team!)