By: Mellissa Honeywood, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Cambridge Public Schools
I remember one summer afternoon feeling a lilt of joy when my father casually mentioned that he had brought a gift for me. It was not my birthday, nor were we near any gift giving holiday so this was a bit confusing. Then he reached behind his back and presented me with a big, bright red, fire extinguisher.
This is because I had created a small kitchen fire while cooking earlier in the week. I was in Elementary school at the time, and I may have been careless in the preparation of my English muffin. Luckily, my brush with the local fire department did not deter me from pursuing a career in cooking. As Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Cambridge Public Schools I’ve had the privilege to serve the students of Cambridge since 2012. In that time we increased the number of schools with salad bars from just 2 in 2012 to all but 4 sites left! We’ve also expanded the menu, and introduced several international recipes including Chicken Biryani, Doro Wat, Haitian stewed chicken and many more. I give a lot of credit to the CitySprouts school garden program for the success of Food Service’s various endeavors. From my perspective students who have engaged with the school garden care more about where their food comes from and are better at expressing what they want to see in the school lunch line.
Having so many students speak so eloquently about their gardens and food knowledge not only makes my job easier, but gives me hope that we have future chefs, farmers, restaurateurs, and health advocates roaming the school hallways. I also expect they are more cautious in preventing kitchen fires than I was at their age.