Healthy Chelsea Coalition at MGH
In 2011, CPS began a collaboration with Healthy Chelsea to improve food offered in Chelsea schools. Healthy Chelsea is a community coalition launched in 2010 with a mission of engaging all sectors of the community to promote healthy choices, decrease the effects of toxic stress/trauma and prevent substance misuse through a variety of prevention, education, advocacy and policy efforts. Multiple other partners, including Northbound Ventures, Food Corps, and the Youth Food Movement, have joined the effort in the years since. The goal of this unique partnership is to improve nutrition quality, freshness, taste, and student satisfaction in School Lunch and Breakfast at Chelsea Public Schools as part of an overall effort to reduce childhood obesity, a disease affecting over 50% of CPS students.
Major projects include:
- Monthly meetings to analyze participation and nutrition data;
- A focus on locally provided food, with education and cafeteria events around the benefits of buying local;
- The Youth Food Movement (YFM) internship program, which allows high school and middle school students to advocate for higher quality food in their school and educate their peers on food justice issues;
- An annual school food satisfaction survey at Chelsea High School organized by YFM; and,
- Regular cafeteria taste tests in all Chelsea public school cafeterias to try Harvest of the Month recipes and other new menu items.
Results of the partnership have been dramatic. Lunch participation at all schools are very high including 80+% at the elementary and middle schools, and 70+% at the high school level. Breakfast participation ranges from 20-30% at the middle and high schools to 40-45% at the elementary schools and 80+% at the ELC.
This increased participation has been accompanied by significant improvements to nutritional content. Since 2015-16, food offered at CPS has met or exceeded federal standards for sodium, saturated fats, and total calories.
The District and its Healthy Chelsea partners are continuing efforts to improve breakfast and lunch offerings. The team have established 5 goals for the food program for the next three years:
- Go Green(er).
- Increase Breakfast Participation to above 50% at all schools.
- Increase scratch-cooked offerings, including number of recipes and as a share of food offered.
- Increase information sharing with key constituents, including students, parents, teachers, and City leaders.
- Make physical changes to cafeterias and food service stations to align with vision.