A couple of months after PhillyMag profiled local chef Marc Vetri and his “Eatiquette” plan to create healthier school lunches in Philadelphia, the program is starting to enjoy increased publicity. AP reports on the program today:
It sounds more like a restaurant order than a school lunch menu: baked ziti with a side of roasted fennel salad and, for dessert, cinnamon apple rice pudding.
But that’s one of the meals offered in the cafeteria at People For People Charter School in Philadelphia. And it’s served family-style. Students pass serving dishes around circular tables, where they eat off plates, not cafeteria trays, and use silverware instead of plastic utensils.
Eatiquette is predicated on the use of fresh ingredients prepared on site. Processed meats are prohibited, and schools follow seasonal menu cycles to ensure there’s no need for canned or frozen produce. The Vetri Foundation For Children donates round tables and chairs to replace traditional rectangular tables and bench seating.
The program is costlier—$1.50 per meal, which is higher than school lunches typically cost—which caused the conservative Washington Times to sniff about the work of the “food police” in Philadelphia. But those costs are going to be important when this also happened this week:
The Philadelphia School District wants its teachers to lengthen their workdays, give back up to 13 perent of their salaries, and forego pay raises at least until 2017. It wants to reduce the money paid out to departing employees, weaken seniority and give principals full authority over hiring and firing teachers.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers officials on Tuesday confirmed some details of the district’s initial contract proposal, which the Inquirer has obtained. School officials have been saying for months that they need up to $180 million in labor givebacks annually to avert a five-year deficit of more than $1 billion.
The teachers union, of course, isn’t too hot on the proposal. And Vetri’s program is in only four schools, so far, with officials looking for grants to help afford it. But it would appear there’s only so much money to go around.