Boston schools renew Whitsons contract

The management company promises changes following a scathing external report.

BOSTON—Boston public school students will enjoy more locally sourced food, participate in quarterly taste tests, and receive a greater say in planning menus as part of a $12.2 million a year food-service contract revealed Tuesday.

Under the deal with Whitsons Culinary Group, the school system will also resume a pilot salad bar project at six schools, said Sam DePina, chief operating officer for student support. The district had faced criticism from parents and staff after shutting down the program last school year.

“We want to make sure they’re getting the healthiest possible food,” DePina said. “We always knew there was a demand for more local options and salads.”

The contract with New York-based Whitsons, which has been the district’s meals provider for the past three school years, was announced months after a scathing external report commissioned by the School Department revealed widespread dysfunction in the food service program.

According to the review, the program had lost more than $21 million over the past eight years, and some employees complained of a hostile work environment. Whitsons had nothing to do with the issues highlighted in the report, school officials say.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
leftovers containers

We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

Ideas and Innovation
food allergy

When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

Menu Development
muse school produce

Kayla Webb, executive chef at Muse School, has transitioned the private K-12 day school in Calabasas, Calif., to an entirely vegan menu over a three-year period. Webb talks about her menuing, and how the school’s kitchen earned the title of “greenest restaurant in the world” from the Green Restaurant Association.

Q: How did you help parents get used to the idea of an all plant-based diet?

A: The first year, we didn’t announce it. We were just serving one plant-based meal a week, so it wasn’t that drastic. We do monthly Muse Talks where we invite different speakers to our school to...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce dirt

Savor at McCormick Place developed the Green Thumb brand for menu items and products featuring its rooftop bounty; the latest is a pale ale made with the first crop of hops grown on the roof. Promoting that branding and the convention center’s green certification has brought in business from groups with a sustainability focus.

FSD Resources