12241099_1634647820119751_8270161710024963421_oPartner school principals point to Vetri Community Partnership programs as a key ingredient to improving school culture, promoting attendance and helping the more than 5,900 students we serve make healthier choices in and out of school.

When Memphis Street Academy Charter School CEO Christine Borelli first witnessed Vetri Community Partnership’s Eatiquette program in 2013 at Cristo Rey High School, she was impressed by the leadership among students in the table captain roles and the socialization that occurred around a family-style meal. Immediately, she sought to get the program in her Kensington school.

“The [Vetri Community Partnership] is one-million percent aligned with our school’s mission,” she said.

Unable to launch the program due to facility limitations, Borelli adopted parts of the program, such as the round tables in place of long, institutional ones and real plates instead of portioned trays. She also had a fresh salad bar installed and implemented a policy banning unhealthy outside food. Still, she felt that Eatiquette’s freshly made, healthy meals would help take her mission one step further.

Less than two miles away at Julia De Burgos Elementary School, Principal Maritza Hernandez was eager to bring Eatiquette to her school because she felt the family-style dining would “encourage students to build relationships, have actual conversations, and share ideas.”

This fall, Vetri Community Partnership partnered with Lintons Managed Services to bring Eatiquette to 830 students at Memphis Street Academy and the School District of Philadelphia Division of Food Services to bring Eatiquette to 800 students at Julia De Burgos Elementary School.

According to Borelli, the program is changing the fabric of her school.

“I’m excited to walk in the lunchroom and see the kids owning the program,” she said. “When they’re sitting at round tables, passing food to one another, there’s a certain level of trust and community that they’re building. Having this program says [to the students], ‘We trust you and we want you to have every opportunity because we care.’”

(Originally published in Vetri Community Partnership’s 2015 Year in Review newsletter)