NYC Schools do about-face (again) on star chefs

Wellness in the Schools will continue with revamped menu.

Aug. 29—A popular chefs' cooking program will continue in New York City schools, officials said Monday. The Wellness in the Schools program (WITS) pairs a chef with the school's cafeteria staff to create from-scratch meals. The program also has a strong educational focus.

Last week it was reported that WITS would no longer be working in the school kitchens. WITS schools—currently 30—offer a different menu than the other schools in the district. The WITS menu, however, uses the same products available to other schools. With the new meal pattern regulations, the district thought it would be too difficult to verify that the WITS' menu was meeting the new requirements, thereby costing the district federal dollars in reimbursement.The WITS educational component was never on the chopping block.

On Monday school officials decided to continue WITS' chef cooking component.

"We are working in collaboration with WITS on an alternative menu that will also meet the new U.S.D.A regulations," Marge Feinberg, spokeswoman for the district, told FSD. "The department aims to work with our partners, and we value having an organization like WITS in our schools."

Fienberg said the WITS program will be expanded to 100 schools this year. WITS schools will use the Department of Education's menu until the program's menu is brought into compliance with the new meal pattern.