School Meals: A Priority in the Dummerston Community

The newly formed School Food & Wellness Committee in Dummerston, a partnership of parents, community members, and school staff, is excited to roll out some changes in the cafeteria this year. Inspired by the Farm-to-School movement in Vermont and eager to offer the most nutritious meals to their students, this committee came together to set some food-related goals for the coming year. These include:

  1. Improving food quality

  2. Using more locally-sourced ingredients

  3. Reducing waste & packaging

  4. Linking food and nutrition with improved learning and curriculum

The group is excited to work with Food Connects and new Kitchen Manager, Tracey Provencher of Cafe Services, to begin moving the needle on these four initiatives. Big picture goals include raising the funds necessary to eliminate all processed meats, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, and a number of other unhealthy ingredients. The team also hopes to support Tracey in reducing the sugar content in foods served in the cafeteria.

As for local sourcing, Tracey is committed to incorporating products such as yogurt, apples, potatoes, and other seasonal vegetables from local farms throughout the school year. Sourcing in this manner is likely to reduce packaging.

Initial successes have included:

  • Developing new systems for communicating food choices to students

  • Piloting a reusable lunch box container

  • Purchasing of new equipment for the cafeteria—including a potato wedger and warming oven

  • Installation of a new recycling container in the cafeteria with clear signage for recycling and compost

What’s next?

  • Installation of a “share cooler,” so that students may share unwanted lunch items with peers

  • Continued work on the elimination of a variety of unhealthy ingredients in cafeteria foods

By eliminating a number of unhealthy ingredients and sourcing high quality, local produce, the committee is confident that overall meal quality will improve this school year.