BPS Superintendent Chang unveils food vendor and voices support for immigrants

Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang unveiled a food partnership with Revolution Valleys for all-natural ingredients in student meals on Sept. 1 at the Michael J. Perkins Elementary School.

Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang spoke about the 2017-18 school year at the Michael J. Perkins Elementary School on Sept. 1. (Image courtesy of Ling-Mei Wong.) 

“One key priority at BPS is making sure young people get healthy and appetizing meals throughout the school day that fuel their learning,” Chang said.

Revolution Valleys will serve close to 14,000 pounds of fresh food each day, said Revolution Valleys vice president of operations Neil Neufeld. Meals are locally sourced and made with natural ingredients, reducing the number of frozen meals for students.

The food and nutrition contract is about $38 million over three years, an increase from the previous contract with Whitsons Culinary Group. Chang said, “It’s not about the dollar amount. We want to provide the best food for our young people.”

A “Breakfast in the Classroom” initiative will be launched to increase the number of schools that serve breakfast to students in their classrooms after the morning bell, which is believed to lead to better academic outcomes for students by eliminating barriers to being well fed. Breakfast will be served in 17 schools at the start of the school year and available at 50 schools by the end of the school year.

Chang voiced his support for immigrants, promising to educate all students regardless of immigration status. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was ended by the Trump administration on Sept. 5, leaving 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants without work authorization and protection against deportation.

“Young people in our schools and employees will be affected … they are proud to be in our country and productive,” Chang said. “We will explore everything we can do if DACA is taken off the books.”

BPS does not ask the immigration status of students and therefore has no data to turn over to law enforcement agencies. The district is working with its legal team and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on legal solutions. “We want our families and young people to know we are here to welcome you to school, regardless of your immigration status,” Chang said.

BPS will launch an “adopt-a-school” effort with the Houston Independent School District to help students impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. BPS school leaders have begun volunteering their schools to help other individual schools in Houston with both supplies and social-emotional support.

The district’s summer learning programs saw high attendance. Average daily attendance rates for the “5th Quarter” blended academic­enrichment programs were 85 percent and 93 percent for high school programs.

BPS will continue the Excellence for All program that promotes rigorous and enriching academic experiences for students, expanding the program to both fourth and fifth grade in the 13 schools piloting the initiative, Chang said. He added BPS will lengthen the school day in an additional 38 schools, adding 120 more hours of learning time, or 20 school days, to the year.

The 2017-18 school year, began on Sept. 7 for grades 1-12 and Sept. 11 for pre-K and kindergarten.

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About Ling-Mei Wong 黃靈美

Editor of the Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England. Contact Ling-Mei at [email protected] 舢舨報紙總編輯。舢舨是全紐英倫唯一的中英雙語雙週報。
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