This past year, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah residents decided it was time to put their kid’s school lunches into local hands. After months and months of hard work and determination, the renovation of the kitchen at the was approved by all three Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) towns and this summer, construction began.
The new kitchen will not only mean a change in the lunches served to the West Tisbury school children, but the children and the Aquinnah children who attend those schools as well. It also means that Chilmark School students to be served hot meals for the very first time in the school’s history.
The at West Tisbury and Chilmark Schools was initiated by Island Grown Schools (IGS) and a group of concerned parents who were unhappy with the quality of food their children were being served on a daily basis. They determined that in order to localize control over the food served to the West Tisbury and Chilmark School children, the West Tisbury School kitchen would need to be brought to code so that it is equipped to make the meals for West Tisbury and Chilmark Schools. The community rallied behind the effort and the skilled architects, builders, electricians, and plumbers who volunteered their time to complete the project have been working hard all summer long.
“It is exciting to work directly with farmers to begin growing foods which complement the needs of the children's meals. This will be an exciting way for farmers to grow what they know will sell and schools know they will prepare and serve,” said Nicole Cabot, IGS coordinator and one of the many who have worked tirelessly to get the project approved and completed.
The list of volunteers for the renovation project is long and impressive. Jason Napior of has been the general contractor at no charge. “The enormity of the project would not have been possible without Jason's generosity,” said Cabot. “Additionally, Dave Sprague of has donated all of the plumbing to this project. His expertise in this complicated work has been invaluable.”
Steve Gallagher of Gallagher Electric is also donating all the electrical work to the project. According to Cabot, Gallagher and Sprague had to disconnect all of the donated equipment given to the Up-Island program by the Town of Edgartown and fit it into the new kitchen. And Trip Barnes of Barnes Movers donated time moving all of the heavy equipment from the old Edgartown School to the West Tisbury School.
and have been instrumental in getting this project going with digging the new grease traps, trenching, jackhammering, “and other unbelievable difficult work on these hot summer days.”
Jenny DeVivo was recently hired as the new head cook for the Up-Island meals program. “Jenny has taken to her newly appointed position with enthusiasm and creativity,” said Cabot. DeVivo has already gotten heavily involved with the Island Grown Schools gleaning program that offers schools, senior centers, families in need and other non-profits produce from local farms like Morning Glory and Whippoorwill that would have ordinarily been plowed under. “The schools benefit from thousands of pounds of beautiful food for free and enables them to provide the healthiest local food to students at no cost.”
Even with all of the support of the community and member volunteers, Cabot says they can always use more. To get involved, call 508-560-0426.
“This is a proud moment for Chilmark and West Tisbury Schools - working together to provide healthy food for all of our up-Island children. With the energy behind this project, we are hopeful that all will be in place for the start of the school year.”