Fairfield Public Schools Awards Foodservice Contract to Whitsons School Nutrition

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Fairfield Public Schools is partnering with Whitsons School Nutrition to provide nutritious and delicious meals for the students at Fairfield Public Schools beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

We will work hand in hand with the Fairfield school community to develop a program that focuses on quality and variety, while also maximizing nutritional value and ensuring adherence to national, state and local health and wellness guidelines.

Whitsons School Nutrition is pleased to announce its partnership with Fairfield, CT. Public Schools to manage the foodservice operations in the district’s 16 schools. As a family-run company, Whitsons understands the importance of working hand in hand with the Fairfield community in order to develop a strong nutrition program that will benefit both the school children and the entire community. According to John Gersbeck, Whitsons’ Senior Vice President of Operations, “It is our mission to help children learn to eat and enjoy foods with the highest nutritional value. We will work hand in hand with the Fairfield school community to develop a program that focuses on quality and variety, while also maximizing nutritional value and ensuring adherence to national, state and local health and wellness guidelines.”

Whitsons was founded in 1979 by Elmer and Gina Whitcomb and handed down to their seven sons and two daughters. Today, the Whitcomb family remains actively involved in the company’s management and has been joined by an “extended family” of team members who share their vision and commitment to bringing the best in dining services to the schools they serve.

The program will feature menu choices that meet Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act requirements as well as other federal, state and local guidelines. Whitsons is committed to providing meals that are not only appealing to young people, but that are also prepared with wholesome ingredients. Chefs use fresh ingredients to prepare the meals, paying special attention to the use of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and healthy snacks. All of Whitsons offerings contain zero trans fats and are free of hydrogenated oils. Whitsons is also committed to reducing and eliminating the use of unnecessary food additives in order to provide foods with the highest nutritional value. Whitsons will also be using GMO free oil. It is Whitsons’ policy to source locally whenever available and in season. Currently, 52% of all products purchased by the company are sourced locally. In the state of Connecticut, Whitsons has partnered with several farms in order to provide fresh produce, from farm to table.

At Fairfield elementary schools, Whitsons will offer a hot entree, a healthier choice salad entrée and a cold lunch alternate every day. At this level, the award-winning Nutrition Safari® program will introduce the children to adorable safari animals that promote each food group and that teach them about making healthy choices. The program also includes a Nutrition Safari character and ranger visit at least once a year and posters with nutritional messages.

The cafeterias at the secondary schools will be decorated with professional signage and merchandising, giving the students a “food court” experience. The menus are created with students’ taste preferences in mind, and designed to offer something for everyone, from a salad entrée to a full hot meal, including specialty concepts such as made-to-order grilled items at the secondary schools, homestyle rotisserie entrees at the high school, wraps to go at the middle school, etc. Whitsons’ nutrition education program at the secondary level, Smart Choices™, includes a monthly newsletter, info series, and nutrition posters.

Whitsons also hosts a Chef Trek program for elementary and secondary schools. Chef Kim Reynolds is the elementary guest chef, and in her visits to the schools, she prepares a special meal and introduces children to new menu items in a fun way. In the secondary schools, the Guest Chefs bring special menu promotions to the schools featuring exciting items such as a ramen bar, dumplings, and sushi, among others.

Leading the Fairfield team is Karen Gersbeck, District Manager of Whitsons School Nutrition, covering public school accounts throughout Connecticut. Karen has over 31 years of experience in the foodservice industry, 3 years as a District Manager and 20 years as a Food Service Director. She has been instrumental in developing effective client relationships within the school communities she served, guiding and inspiring the foodservice team to continuously improve the program, resulting in program enhancements and increased participation.

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Whitsons Culinary Group provides a wide range of highly customized dining services to public schools, corporations and institutions, with a strong focus on nutritious, high quality menus made from fresh, wholesome ingredients. Whitsons has a long and proud history of excellence and growth since 1979 and currently ranks the 4th largest school nutrition provider in the United States. Whitsons’ scope of expertise and services extends to: emergency dining, residential and healthcare dining, prepared meals, and school dining and services.

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Sonia Garrido
Whitsons Culinary Group
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