Community Partnership School

Eatiquette at CPS

At our partner, Community Partnership School, in North Central Philadelphia, talent meets opportunity. Pre-kindergarten and elementary age children from low-wealth, low-income backgrounds are offered a high-quality, affordable education that prepares them for lifelong success and strengthens the communities to which they belong. Emphasizing curiosity, courage, and compassion, this independent school provides individualized instruction focusing on intellectual, physical and character development.

As a fundamental part of this effort to graduate intellectually curious, responsible citizens with the tools to thrive, CPS features Eatiquette in its lunchroom – never sacrificing the opportunity to develop its students’ bodies and minds.

We spoke with CPS Head of School Eric Jones to learn more about his decision to make Eatiquette a part of the CPS curriculum, and what kind of impacts it has had in his school:

What made you decide to implement Eatiquette in your school?

Searching for a higher quality food service option than what we had been using, but limited by a pretty tight budget, we decided to give it shot when we realized the logistics were manageable. [Note – CPS leases extra space in their building for Eatiquette]

Upon learning about how the program operated and its mission, we were immediately sold and set about sorting through our space constraints.

What is the biggest change compared to your lunch program before?

Hands down, the most immediate change came when we started eating food that’s more fresh.

Eatiquette day, over a year in now, continues to be an event for our school community.

In conjunction with the food literacy initiatives we’ve undertaken in the classroom and with our parents/guardians, we’ve achieved a higher level of discourse, general understanding, and engagement in our school community around healthy eating and living.

In your opinion, how have your students responded? What feedback have you heard from students, teachers, kitchen staff?

Because of space constraints in the facility where we lease space for our program, what we do for Eatiquette is less than 5 days a week, so the common refrain we hear from students, staff, and caregivers is, “I wish we did this everyday!”

Has the program impacted your school outside of the lunchroom?

I especially love that many of our parents and guardians requests recipes in response to what their children report having eaten on Eatiquette days.

What do you think of the food personally?

One – or better stated, but one – of the weaknesses with the packaged food we served exclusively prior to Eatiquette was its appearance; much of it didn’t look very appealing, let alone to the taste. What we eat via Eatiquette exudes freshness. The colorful presentations are always so attractive and restaurant-quality. It’s the kind of care in preparation to which I became accustomed working in the suburban-based independent schools in which I once worked. The fact that we so often accept anything less in schools catering primarily to children from low income communities is just another example of the kind of second-class conditions we give, at best, tacit approval to for this population in our society. Eatiquette breaks that malaise, proving that eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. So if concern re: funding is our reason for not serving fresh foods in our cafeterias and not appropriating thoughtful curriculum around what’s being served, we’re just not thinking broadly or creatively enough.

Learn more about CPS Food Service Coordinator Chef Maria Sama.

Learn more about Community Partnership School on their website.