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First-ever Chefs Council to provide healthy meals for NYC schools

Mayor Eric Adams
NYC Mayor Eric Adams chills with future voters.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

New York City Mayor Eric Adams along with Schools Chancellor David Banks announced the launch of the city’s first ever Chefs Council in partnership with national non-profit organization Wellness in the Schools (WITS).

The council, chaired by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, includes celebrated chefs, culinary industry professionals and food activists.

“Teaching students at a young age to eat healthy, nutritious meals is critical to setting them up for success,” said Mayor Adams in an announcement Sept. 27. “The new Chefs Council will develop delicious, nutritious, culturally relevant meals for schools with direct input from students and parents. Through this partnership with WITS and our tremendous staff of school food workers, we will take school meals to the next level.”

The Chefs Council will develop scratch-cooked, plant-based and culturally relevant recipes as well as provide hands-on training for the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS) chefs.

Over 100 recipes will be developed and tested in schools across all five boroughs during the 2022-2023 school year, and following feedback from parents and students, the recipes will be included as a monthly seasonal menu and chefs will train school cooks on incorporating these new recipes in all public school locations.

“Healthy and nourishing meals are essential in ensuring our students can succeed both inside and outside the classroom. This initiative will help to expand our menus while making sure they follow our strict health standards and are reflective of the cultures and communities we serve,” said DOE Chancellor Banks. “I’m grateful to the Chefs Council for the work they will do as part of this initiative and to our food service workers, who work day in and day out to ensure our students are well fed and cared for.”

WITS co-founder and director Nancy Easton praised the new partnership, saying it would help NYC children gain greater access to healthy foods.

“Wellness in the Schools is grateful to Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for prioritizing school meals,” Easton said. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services’ Cook Ambassadors and local chefs to bring scratched-cooked, plant-based, and culturally relevant food to nearly one million New York City school children. Expanding our model in the largest school district in the country is a significant step forward in advancing our mission to eliminate obesity related illnesses that begin in childhood.”

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