Helpful tips and suggestions for working with NYCDOE's Office of SchoolFood and becoming an advocate for your school and child
1. Understand the system
We have created a chart to help demystify the NYC Department of Education's Office of SchoolFood. This office oversees over 1200 school buildings and is comprise of 11 departments. The Office of SchoolFood is dedicated to feeding students and their staff are available to help you meet the needs of your school and your children. Make sure you understand what the federal regulations are for school lunch and get educated with this great school food breakdown from the Chef Ann Foundation.
2. Eat with your kid(s)
You may be pleasantly surprised, or at the very least, you will have a better understanding of the eating and nutrition goals you should set for your child(ren). Review the menu at your child(ren)'s school regularly; it should be posted in every cafeteria and can also be found on our website here.
3. Adopt the Alternative Menu
The Alternative Menu is a NYCDOE SchoolFood option available to all schools and served in every WITS school. The Alternative Menu is available in both lunch and supper options and offers more scratch-cooked, plant-based, and fewer processed food items that the classic menu. You can view the monthly Alternative Menu on our website and compare DOE menus on SchoolFood's website here.
4. Join or form a Wellness Committee and create a Wellness Policy
Align with your Wellness Committee and work together to achieve your goals. Check out The New York City Department of Education's Wellness Policies on Physical Activity and Nutrition for inspiration. Check out the USDA's list of sample Wellness Policies online and this helpful Wellness Policy Tool from Action for Healthy Kids.
5. Work collaboratively to develop goals for your school lunch program
It takes active participation from your school, parents, volunteers, and SchoolFood to make a great lunch program. Start with your principal as they are often the one who must facilitate meetings and serve as a liaison. Check out WITS' Cook for Kids goals and our sample starting points for a healthier school food experience.
6. Meet regularly with your SchoolFood Manager to discuss successes, concerns, and implementation plans
Your SchoolFood Manager is responsible for ordering food and is integral to creating and developing a collaborative relationship between parents, the Wellness Committee, school staff, and SchoolFood. You can get your SchoolFood Manager's information (and the information of their Supervisor if needed) from your principal. If after reaching out to the Manager and Supervisor you are still unable to get a response, ask to speak to the Regional Director:
Mitchell Derek: (Brooklyn Districts 1, 13, 14, 16,19, 23, & 32)
Vita Tammaro: (Brooklyn & Staten Island Districts 17,18, 20, 2, 22, & 31)
Cherise Tafe: (Bronx Districts 7, 8, 9, 11, & 12)
Josefina Magsino: (Queens Districts 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, & 39)