Should School Cafeterias Be More Like Fast-Casual Restaurants?

Read the full story at Civil Eats. Although the story doesn’t address it directly, I strongly suspect that programs like this also reduce the amount of wasted food.

As students stream into the cafeteria at the Manassah E. Bradley Elementary School in East Boston, a buzz builds as they notice what’s for lunch.

“It’s taco day!” one boy yells, adding a joy-filled jig to his exclamation.

Despite the fact he’s brought his lunch from home, the 11-year-old herald enthusiastically hops into the line to have his tray filled with salad greens, whole-grain rice, black beans, seasoned chicken, and a few spears of broccoli—steamed and seasoned minutes before by a chef. Instead of receiving a plastic-wrapped, pre-heated lunch, today’s taco ingredients have been prepared and cooked fresh, then served separately on the line to give students more choice.

The scene more closely resembles lunchtime at a fast casual restaurant like Sweetgreen or Chipotle than an elementary school—and that’s by design. At four schools in East Boston—Bradley Elementary, Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School, the East Boston Early Education Center, and East Boston High School—a pilot has been underway since May testing the feasibility of cooking meals made with fresher ingredients.


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