Step into any COMPASS after school program, and you may be surprised to find that every kid receives a full supper – served hot, every day, thanks to the food services department at Hartford Public Schools.
The dinner program, which began in 2011 with a pilot at Burns Latino Studies Academy (BLSA), serves thousands of meals to kids in Hartford each year. The meals are required to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and are at no cost to students. Food choices include whole grains, low fat, high fiber options.
“The wonderful thing about the supper program is it allows students to receive an additional serving of fruit, vegetable and milk daily,” shares Yolanda Burt, a registered dietician and Director of Food Services at Hartford Public Schools. “Through school, we are getting them one step closer to meeting their daily nutritional requirements especially in calcium and vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables.”
The menu varies daily, and Ms. Burt and her team work hard to incorporate as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. One such supplier is Gordon Scott, proprietor of Scotts’ Jamaican Bakery, whose Jamaican jerk patties are a crowd favorite. Mr. Scott recently toured a supper held at BLSA, and came away with a deep appreciation for the program’s impact.
That impact is magnified by the staggering statistics: according to Feeding America, 46.5 million Americans struggle with hunger, a number acutely felt by the 1 in 5 kids facing food insecurity. Elizabeth Giannetta-Ramos, the Community School Director who oversees the dinner administration at BLSA, concurs: “If we didn’t have supper there would be a lot more kids that would be going home, having to wait until breakfast or lunch to eat. For some, the dinner program is a key reason they come to COMPASS.”
To view a sample dinner menu: Supper December 2015 Menu