Hoboken Public School District
Special Edition Follow Up: Food Service
This morning, I met with our new food service provider. Meeting attendees included the Chartwells Regional Director and Regional Manager, as well as our district's Business Administrator and Assistant Business Administrator. The meeting was extrememly productive and provided the opportunity to share our observations and recommendations. Chartwells was extremely transparent and open to suggestions.
First and foremost, Chartwells like other food service providers across the state and nation are faced with some supply chain challenges and staffing shortages due to the pandemic. There are also some limitations on the food commodities market that are affecting the federal lunch program. However, after discussing the specifics, I have no doubt in my mind that these challenges can certainly be overcome and they will not have a long term effect on our district. To address some of these issues, Chartwells has hired an Assistant Site Supervisor to help with ordering, storing and transporting supplies, and inventory control. This individual is set to start in two weeks.
Second, we shared our observations regarding the menus particularly at the primary and elementary school levels and together we decided:
- We will switch from an order based menu to a serve based menu starting Monday, September 27th for the next few months. This means that instead of offering a large menu with many options that students can order in the lunch line, Chartwells will offer three different lunch types that will be pre-selected: Regular/Protein Based Lunch, Vegan/Vegetarian Lunch, or the Fun Lunch Bag. The contents of these lunches will be presented to families over the weekend to select for the week. Please note that families will not be bound to choices. It is just a way to help consolidate the menu for a short time and to ensure that all lunch periods are adequately prepared.
- We want parents and guardians to have a good picture of the lunch service, lunch staff, and what is being served to children. As a result, we have asked Chartwells to host a live Lunch Period for parents and guardians at each of our elementary schools on Sunday, October 3rd from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. This way parents and guardians can talk with representatives from Chartwells, interact with food service employees, see and taste the food, walk through the lunch line just as children do, and provide feedback and input. Chartwells has agreed to do this and will provide more information and invitations as we get closer to the date.
Third, we discussed pizza because this is the one item at the elementary schools and at the middle school level that seemed to have run out two weeks in a row. Some parents have asked if we could go back to using a local pizzeria for Friday pizza days instead of using the food service pizza. The answer to that is yes, but believe it or not, school districts need a waiver from the Department of Agriculture to pass over the whole wheat crust pizza served by companies like Chartwells and use a local pizzeria. For the past two years we have applied for the waiver and received it. We have applied for it this year as well and are waiting for it. As soon as we get it, we will shift to the use of local pizzerias on Fridays.
Lastly, but most important, we discussed allergens and nutritional transparency. Please understand that school food service providers can't guarantee that they are peanut free or nut free completely because they can't guarantee that there is not cross contamination at the plant level. Just like Pomptonian, Chartwells can assure that no menu items contain peanuts or tree nuts. Right now, our Director of Special Services, Dr. Cecilia D'Elia along with our school nurses are working to ensure that our "Allergen Footprint" in each of our schools is accurate and up to date. Please be sure to email Dr. D'Elia (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your child's school nurse if your child has any allergies that we must know about or that you would like to provide additional information. In addition, we are obtaining detailed nutritial transparancy associated with the Chartwells menus that parents should have for reference. As soon as we receive that, it will be posted for all to view.
New food service providers always need some time to best learn the wants and needs of a district. They need to create menus that are most appropriate for children of all ages. And, they must operationalize new staff and procedures to ensure high quality service. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we transition. Have a wonderful day.
Superintendent of Schools
Hoboken Public Schools - A District Dedicated to Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships
The Hoboken Public School District will be recognized as a premier educational choice and widely known as a best-practice model for academic growth, high quality instruction, innovative and equitable programs, engagement, facilities and personalized pathways that are essential for college, career and life-preparedness in our ever-changing, interconnected global society.
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The Hoboken Public School District will implement a rigorous, relevant and responsive curriculum that meets the needs of all students, fosters personalized pathways for learning, and ensures continuous academic growth.
The Hoboken Public School District will support its diverse staff in professional growth, encourage them to serve as role models, and empower them to provide the highest quality of instruction for our students.
The Hoboken Public School District will develop and implement unique and innovative programs that promote global learning, ensure equitable access, and foster the social, emotional and academic growth of each student.
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