With the beginning of the new school year, students were introduced to Chartwells, the new food service company the Farmington Board of Education contracted with to supply school lunches.
The company, which serves more than 500 school districts daily, according to its website, took over Farmington’s cafeterias this fall after a June 2012 decision by the Board of Education.
Chartwells, along with new USDA regulations, brings a number of new choices to students, particularly more fruit and vegetable offerings, an emphasis on low sodium and reduced fat. Menus are tailored to each age group, with those at Farmington High School mirroring an eclectic array of restaurant fare with options such as Szechuan chicken, Cantonese pork and Italian Stromboli. Younger students are offered more familiar choices like macaroni and cheese, pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pasta.
According to the menus, “A full student lunch includes a choice of entrée supplying protein and grain, up to three vegetable side dishes, one fruit side dish, and milk.” As part of those offerings, a cold vegetable and fruit bar is available and each month, a “deeply colored, nutrient-rich vegetable” is featured.
Early anecdotal information suggests that most kids like some of the changes, while others – like the loss of strawberry milk and ice cream – are disappointing.
For this year, school lunch prices stay the same, though Chartwells notes in a letter to parents that the cost of producing the lunches is going up due to the new requirements.
In addition, operations will be overseen by Chartwells director Tim Malley, who lives in Burlington and has worked with the company since 1982.
Correction: The article initally read "For this year, school lunch prices stay the same, though Chartwells notes in a letter to parents that the cost of lunches is going up due to the new requirements." The cost of producing the lunches is increasing, though Chartwells has not indicated it will raise the price to students.