GEMS Students Voice Suggestions for Changes to School Meal Program

Target 2: Leadership in a Student-Centered Learning Environment – FWSU will foster development of teacher and student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Ensure students and staff take an active role shaping their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, and diverse resources.

Whether it is a family gathering, school function, business luncheon, or celebration, we all realize how food plays an integral part in determining success. At the beginning of this school year the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect, changing many of the standards for serving meals in public schools. As food service programs across the nation grapple with the new regulations, GEMS has also struggled with its meal options.


Five GEMS student representatives in grades 4-8 (Haley Bechard, Zachary Favreau, Nathan Forgan, Mariah Jollie and Emma Rainville) serve on the School Nutrition Committee. They have been working collaboratively alongside the food service provider (The Abbey Group), school board members, school nurse, and school administration to improve the school meals program.

The students have conducted site visits of neighboring school programs, with another outside visit planned for the end of the month. Drawing from area visits, student survey suggestions, and personal experience, this team of students put forth its own concrete ideas for upgrades to the program. As a result, changes are taking effect including a new chicken-tender product and the return of an old favorite – pancakes! Also, efforts are underway to implement a separation of vegetables from the main dish and to raise awareness of the fruit and veggie bar which is free to all students who select school lunch.

table shot

Another student-led change was to increase the frequency that pizza is served at school – the School Board just voted to make a pizza option available every day; pepperoni has been added to the middle school pizza selection, while working within the stringent USDA guidelines.

The students also shared some of their favorite features of the current program such as the Taste-Test, the “no-thank-you” table, the fruit and veggie bar, and most breakfast options. Over the next few months, the committee will explore more long-range enhancements such as equipment upgrades, renovations to the cafeteria to improve the appearance, and upgrades to some food product in conjunction with an increase in meal prices.

abbey and kids

Thanks to this team of thoughtful students for using their voice to improve the quality of every student’s school day by enhancing the food service program.

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