Can Marc Vetri Save School Lunch?

Goodbye, rubbery nuggets, plastic trays and long cafeteria lines. The city’s top chef and his team want to turn the midday meal on its head. Marc Vetri, Jeff Benjamin and Jeff Michaud aim to remake school lunch. And not just the food but the social setting as well.

The Vetri team plans to revolutionize America’s school cafeterias »

UPDATE: Today was Vetri’s first day providing lunch at People for People Charter School and he tweeted the work. Vetri’s Eatiquette program provided roast turkey, mushroom risotto, Swiss chard and a fresh pear for $1.82 per child. [Twitter]


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  • Mike

    Good luck.

    Noble intentions are great, but overcoming the inertia of thge understaffed, underfunded, and underrespected education system is a monumental challenge.

  • barryg

    @Mike, that’s why he’s doing this at charter schools.

  • Tex

    I’m glad these kids will have the benfit of $135 three-hour lunches. Will they be able to chose from two wine pairings as well?

  • diParma

    hahaha @ Tex

  • I think this is an ABSOLUTELY marvelous idea!!! As usual, the playing field is never level, i.e., Charter Schools will have the opportunity to partake in this venture, but the Public Schools will not! Very sad….but I wish you the best at finally presenting appetizing meals despite all of the bureaucracy and “red tape”. If public schools are ever allowed to partake in such a venture, please contact GAMP!

  • 90centsleft

    As someone who lives in this world a bit, a few points:

    $1.82 without labor. $1.82 in simple food costs, perhaps. Just something to keep in mind and something Vetri fails to mention every time. The reality is that with all school meal programs, labor accounts for the largest percentage (or nearly) of the approximately $2.75 reimbursement rate schools receive through the National School Lunch Program. I truly wonder what his labor costs are; understanding the more granular details would be beneficial to true cost-effective analyses, scale-up, and program replication.

    I applaud his efforts, and am glad he found charter schools able and willing to pay more for his services (and I can assure you they are paying more), but not all schools are created equal. Further, not all charters are created equal. Wissahickon Charter has long had an interest in improving their meals and spending more per student, but many charters still cannot secure additional funds for meals, nor can (or will) reallocate funds away from academics to food service.

    I certainly wish all schools put more towards feeding their students well, as it enables better learning, better health outcomes, and improved behavior. But the reality is that the disparities among the haves and have-nots in the public school realm continues to widen. In the meanwhile, Vetri’s youngest consumers are among the luckiest and the youngest kids in District schools and public charters have little option but to take what is offered and make the best of some really low-quality food.

  • I truly believe that you CAN serve up some healthy food at the same cost as the current lunches provided. & its doesnt have to go from chicken nuggets to swiss chard & risotto.

    easy cut up raw veggies with low fat ranch
    salad bar
    tuna fish without all the oil & sodium
    baked REAL chicken vs breaded–simply fresh ingredients–its truly a change of vendors & prep lists
    go from white to wheat on most products

    there is a cost to train on new products, prep, presentation, etc…BUT the kids are worth it!!!

    Lets keep the conversation going & get kids excited abt it!

    subtle changes…over time… that kids can enjoy!

  • Chris M.

    If more people realized that what you eat directly affects school performance, behavior, attitude, etc., changing school lunchs would be a priority.