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Giving students the food they deserve

Staff photo
Photograph by Abbey Lewis

At Calumet New Tech High School in Gary, Ind., 85% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

The FSD team walked into the cafeteria on a rainy March afternoon, camera and notebooks in hand, ready to write about a new program developed by Chartwells, the school feeder employed at Calumet for the past 10 years.

We were greeted at the door of the cafeteria by school superintendent Dr. Sharon Johnson-Shirley, Principal Cynthia Trevino, School Board President Glenn Johnson and various other district dignitaries.

We were also met by a fleet of smiling cafeteria employees, many of who declared over and over that they love what they do because “they deserve it,” gesturing to the students filing in through the doors.

The offer itself was stunning: fresh fruit and stations with wonderfully prepared salads, pizzas, nachos and sandwiches. The school was celebrating National School Nutrition Week Month the day we wandered in, a table and display set up to introduce the kids to an array of grains from quinoa to farro, with a sample to try: seared marinated steak on a simple slaw. The chef described his process to the students, searing and slicing the steak as he spoke.

And it looked like they loved it. Groups of laughing high schoolers huddled around the grains, trying to guess which was which. Kids were trying things they’d never seen before.

At FSD, we know Calumet New Tech High School isn’t alone in its ingenuity or its inspiration. We are privileged to write about so many school districts, many of which outsource their feeding, and many others that don’t. Regardless of method, one thing is always true: You do what you do so well because “they deserve it.”

They deserve our best.

That’s just one of the reasons our editorial team decided to explore food insecurity across noncommercial foodservice segments. From K-12 to healthcare, college and university to senior living, everyone deserves to eat good food. And this industry has embraced that challenge, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because so many more people need it.

We absolutely expect more operators to follow their lead, because the need is growing, and also because it’s what you do—it’s what you’ve always done.

Because they deserve it.

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Let us know how you're addressing the issue of food insecurity by emailing me at alewis@winsightmedia.com. 

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