District Director Elena Cohen had the pleasure of visiting JFK Middle School in Northampton to see Project Bread’s free lunch program for everyone in action.
This was a special visit for Elena since she attended JFK as a student (many years ago!). While many of the murals on the walls were the same, the smells wafting from the cafeteria were distinctly different. Walking into the cafeteria, everyone smelled the salt and pepper chicken and tofu being sampled and the “Freshampton Cheesesteak” which was on the menu. Inside the kitchen, the salads included local lettuce.
Project Bread supports school nutrition staff in developing menus that are in line with federal nutrition standards. They provide monthly virtual professional development training for staff on recipe development, efficiencies in the kitchen, and trainings on childhood hunger and health.
Mistelle Hannah, Northampton School’s Food Service Director, shared that before school lunch was free for everyone, about 30% of students ate school lunch. Now that it’s free and accessible to everyone, about 40-50% of students eat school lunch and this number is only rising.
After helping to serve food to some hungry seventh graders, Elena got to speak with students about what they thought of the salt and pepper chicken and tofu they’d just tasted. Project Bread and school nutrition staff incorporate student feedback as they adapt recipes for school menus. The salt and pepper chicken and tofu got high marks, with an overwhelming number of students putting a sparkly sticker in the “Loved it!” column on the poster next to the table.