Today I spent the morning and early afternoon visiting several Lowell Schools with Sharon Lagasse Director of Food and Nutrition for the Lowell Public Schools. I wanted to follow-up on the C.E.P. (Community Eligibility Program) which is the program that allows Lowell to offer Free Breakfast and Lunch to all students.
I also wanted to see first hand the programs in action at the High School, Elementary , Middle and schools that don’t have kitchen facilities referred to in the Food service world as satellite locations.
I also wanted to get addressed rumors and stories concerning cookies for breakfast and under-cooked chicken.
I could write about how they now present food in clear warm trays at the satellite Schools like the Washington which uses an old classroom for a cafe.
I could write about the records they keep on EVERY Refrigerator and oven to insure proper temperatures. Milk btw is always between 41 and under but like your home fridge, when you open the door the cold gets out some.
I can tell you that I found enough material to fill a weeks worth of blog post and that most of it shows that Food Service, Food Quality and Food Choices is NOT really one of the major issues that this Supt. needs to address.
Could they improve? Absolutely. Are they willing to? It appears so
Will Lowell benefit because of C.E.P.? Yes
Starting Sunday, I will post answers I received to commonly asked questions, showcase some of what is offered and look at the finances involved.
Above everything else about today’s visits, the top 5 items I noted aside from the food programs were:
1) Security – We tried several doors that were locked and had to sign in at every school after getting buzzed in.
2) At one lunch at LHS wait time was no more than four minutes and the students were not only well behaved but kept things moving along and were not loud at all.
3) Principals, Teachers and staff were willing to talk about concerns they had in front of a total stranger but also were complementary about the willingness of the Food Service Dept. to listen and adapt.
4) The Kitchen staffs at every school were proud of their contributions to the kids and seemed to enjoy their jobs. You could see one or two who may not have been all that happy but the majority love the kids and enjoy dealing with them.
5) Because of C.E.P the food service dept was able to give EVERY School a Christmas Dinner!
Look at the sign above.