Food Services Update
October 1, 2021
Dear Montgomery Township School Community,
The district, the Board of Education, and our food service provider, Chartwells, understand and agree with the community’s concerns regarding the quality and selection of meal options that our students have been receiving. As a follow-up to my last communication regarding food services, I would like to update the community on our current status and highlight some of the improvements we have made and those we plan to implement.
At our September 28th board meeting, I expressed that the district’s number one priority has been to provide in-person instruction for all students in a safe environment that protects the health of our children, their families, and our staff. We are following the mandates from Governor Murphy’s executive orders, recommendations from the NJ and Montgomery Departments of Health, guidance from the CDC, and advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics and our school physician. In following these safety guidelines, we have not had any outbreaks of Covid-19 or the need to have any of our district’s schools change to virtual instruction.
In order to continue to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus during meal times, when students are unmasked, we have taken the following steps in our schools:
- Mask wearing at all times when not eating or drinking
- Maintaining 3 feet of separation
- Limiting the amount of students in meal locations by serving meals in classrooms, adding additional lunch sections (which has shortened the time available to serve and eat), and monitoring students that eat together if there is a need for contact tracing
- Beginning the school year with limited options of cold grab-and-go meals to prevent students gathering in lines as we established our new lunch time protocols
These combined efforts have been successful in minimizing the impacts of COVID-19 in our schools.
Representatives from Chartwells attended our BOE meeting and discussed some of the constraints they have faced to date with our food service. These include Supply chain disruptions (including last-minute cancelled deliveries), a labor shortage (despite offering bonuses to new or returning employees), and the National School Lunch Program regulations that require strict adherence to nutrition and portion sizes.
We have been working to overcome these challenges since our schools opened on September 10, 2021. The following steps have been taken:
- Ingredients have been upgraded and name-brand products, such as Boar’s Head, are being used.
- Product expiration and “use by” dates are being closely monitored
- Salads, vegetarian options, and salads with proteins are now available.
- Hot lunch options have been added to the menu at MHS
- School administrators are working on logistical changes to provide hot meals at OHES, VES, LMS and UMS as soon as possible
In addition, the district will be creating an ad-hoc food service committee that will be composed of board members, district staff, parents, and other stakeholders. The focus of the committee will be to evaluate the district’s food service operations and recommend changes. Please look for an email in the near future seeking volunteers for this committee.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding food services, please contact your child’s school. I will continue to report our progress through additional emails, website updates, and board meeting reports as necessary.
Please know that we are committed to ensuring that we provide quality and nutritious meals to all our students.
Mary E. McLoughlin