After months and months of hard work and determination, the renovation of the kitchen at the has been approved. With the final vote taken last night in Aquinnah, all three Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) towns agreed that this was the right move for their kids.
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.
For the past 23 years, Chartwells, a multinational food service corporation, has had a contract with the school system. However, currently Chartwells only serves the West Tisbury and Chilmark Schools and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. All of the other Island schools have independent lunch programs.
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: skilled architects, builders, electricians, and plumbers volunteered their time to complete the project this coming summer.
In December, the and the new lunch program, but those involved knew that hurdles still lay ahead. That budget had to be approved not only by West Tisbury, but also by Chilmark and Aquinnah. Chilmark and West Tisbury approved their budgets last month and last night, Aquinnah town members added an approval of their own, giving the final go-ahead for the project.
“I am elated,” said Nicole Cabot IGS coordinator and one of the many who have worked tirelessly to get the project approved in all three towns. “All the hard work was worth it and this process has been an amazing experience for the Up-Island school community. We all came together and became the best grass-roots example for change.”
“Other communities around the country are paying close attention to what we’re doing and we set the bar high,” said Cabot. “We came together - moms, dads, farmers and showed them that anyone can do this and next fall our kids will be eating delicious, local, healthy food every single day.”