Magazine article Curriculum Review

"Family Style" Cafeteria Set-Up Reshapes Phila. Students' Eating Habits

Magazine article Curriculum Review

"Family Style" Cafeteria Set-Up Reshapes Phila. Students' Eating Habits

Article excerpt

Grades K-12

Good nutrition is supported by healthy eating habits as well as a healthy and positive outlook on food and mealtime in general. Professional Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri knows this, which is in part why he created "Eatiquette," a program being implemented across city schools, according to

Eatiquette is not just a list of guidelines detailing what foods to serve in a school lunchroom, but more of a "lifestyle" introduction that creates a health-positive outlook among children in regards to eating. The goal, says, is "to provide nutritious, low-cost lunches in a setting that reinforces social niceties and communication skills."

"This is more than just eating healthy. This is learning how to interact with each other," Vetri said.

Now in the People for People Charter School--where 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced meals--and three others in the area, Eatiquette is inspired by "family style" eating, complete with round tables, real plates and plenty of helping hands.

Students on the Job

Each day, a student "table captain" slips into a chef's coat and prepares his or her table for the day's lunch. She'll lay out a plastic tablecloth, set a place for each diner, fill water glasses and portion out the salad.

During lunch, table captains dart back to the kitchen for the main course and dessert.

A far cry from the cramped, crowded buffet line, this method reduces opportunities for shoving, bickering and bullying and increases opportunities for children to feel like valuable, important contributors to their peer group.

Making it Happen

The program relies on a strict process of food selection that includes:

* No processed meat

* A seasonal menu

* No frozen or canned produce

* Fresh ingredients prepared on site

People for People food service staff members prepare 540 lunches per day, and with each of them costing about $1. …

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