BOSTON (CBS) – Kids can be tough critics – especially when it comes to being enthused about school lunches.
A Norwood elementary school is cooking fresh food right in the cafeteria
“There are some improvements here and I really like it,” one student said.
The rave cafeteria reviews from fifth graders at Oldham Elementary School are no accident.
It’s the work of Jared Becker, Boston-based regional executive chef for Chartwells K-12. He makes sure 250,000 students are fed every day as he manages over 100 school districts.
“Everything we can do to get the kids the best food available is going to help them with eating not only every day, but more often and we want that to happen,” he said.
In a way, it’s a swing back to the olden days. Gone are re-heated foil boxes of meals. Everything – even pizza – is made fresh on site.
The Town of Norwood spent almost $150,000 last year on new kitchen equipment for this lunch makeover.
Children now know their vegetables are from local farmers.
Becker thinks with sophisticated kids who are used to watching cooking shows and eating out with their families, school lunch can never be the same.
“As we put chefs in the schools, they can make those menu items and get them out there to really have the kids allowing them to have that very entertaining meal, not just something for nourishment but they can be excited about,” Becker said.
Chartwells’ resident dietician sees fresh cooking at school as a main ingredient of a good education.
“They’re spending the majority of their day at school and in order to think in class, or to lead actively in all the activities they’re doing, they need good nutrition to fuel them through the day,” said Kelsey Massis.
Chartwells even has a high-tech connection for parents, an app called “Nutrislice” so parents can see menus in advance and manage safety issues like food allergies.