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Chartwells School Dining Services Finish Up a Successful Year at Pelham Union Free School District (NY)


July 17, 2012 - Pelham, NY

Pelham Union Free students that used to leave the open campus for meals and free time now spend it in the dining center. The district has seen an increase in the amount of students eating lunch in the school cafeteria. Chartwells School Dining Services manages the food services for Pelham Union Free schools, which have seen as much as a 15% daily rise in students choosing to dine in the café over last school year, amounting to a total of 15,856 meals as of May 2012. Locally in Pelham, Chartwells serves meals to over 2,500 students in five schools; four elementary schools and one high-middle school.

Jennifer Gundersen, director of dining services for Chartwells, said that healthier options have increased satisfaction in the district. "The children and families are happy with the choices and the participation has been great. The reaction this year to our variety of food offerings has been positive," Gundersen said. "We offer a Boar's Head deli bar where students can get their sandwich toasted, a salad bar that features local produce when available, yogurt parfaits, hummus cups, The Arthur Avenue Sandwich (a popular Italian Hero) and freshly-made hot dishes that change daily. The students especially love the Pepper Steak and Yellow Rice made by our own Chef Jessica Torres. The elementary favorite is breakfast for lunch, whole grain French toast sticks & scrambled eggs. We also partnered with local vendor Pelham Pizza, which the students love!"

Earlier this year, a Cyber Cafe lounge became available to students from 7 am - 4 pm daily. It is equipped with 15 computers and one printer so that students can do school work any time of the day. The café is located in the cafeteria across from the Outtakes kiosk, which offers quick cuisine featuring grab-and-go items such as ready-made salads with local produce, sandwiches, low-fat yogurt parfaits, beverages and snacks. Bob's Furniture of Yonkers, NY generously donated $1,000.00 to the Cyber Cafe to purchase pub style tables and chairs, allowing students to sit, eat, study and socialize in a safe environment.

The dining center offers "build your own trail mix" bar, as part of the dining center's March Nutrition Month Snack attack station, which has been very popular with student, faculty and administration. Perceived as a healthy snack, employees sell sandwich bags, called "saddle bags" befitting the western theme, for $2.95 and the students fill it up with offerings such as:

  • Bulk cereal - Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Frosted Mini-Wheats
  • Animal crackers
  • Pretzel twists
  • Granola (2 kinds)
  • Dried trail mix - commodity
  • Dried fruits - banana chips, pineapple rings, apple rings, cherries, raisins, dates
  • Yogurt covered raisins

As part of their commitment to associate acknowledgement, Chartwells celebrates "employee of the month." The associates nominate each other anonymously by filling out a form. The winner is celebrated with a cake and a certificate.

To spruce up the dining center, last summer the serving area was painted with chalk board paint. The wall, which is also magnetic, allows employees to write out daily specials, saving on paper and ink. "It's great for the environment and the superintendent thought it was a great idea," said Gundersen. "We look forward to more fun and innovation in the next school year!"

About Chartwells School Dining Services
Chartwells, a division of Charlotte, NC-based Compass Group provides dining services for over 550 public school districts and private schools, comprising over 6,000 separate elementary, middle and high schools nationwide. For more information about Chartwells School Dining Services, visit www.eatlearnlive.com.

Ayde Lyons
Director of Communications
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