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A New Kind of Fresh

Chartwells and Ann Arbor Public Schools work together to source school lunches from local purveyors and to continue to expand free meals for students at CHS.
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Ailish Kilbride
Jack Gould holds a pear in his hands while standing in the CHS kitchen. Gould gained ten years of food service experience before becoming a Sous Chef at CHS. “I’m grateful for [my journey] because I have a skill set that is universally loved no matter where I go,” Gould said. “Anywhere I move to in the world at this point I can go and get a job the next day so it works out.”

Getting caught in the crossfires of the challenges of college and their interests led Jack Gould to drop out of school and pursue a new path. With no clear career track in sight, Gould turned to their childhood love of watching cooking videos and found themselves in Indianapolis working in the fast food industry.

After gaining 10 years of food service experience and getting trained by “multiple wonderful individuals,” Gould is now one of the Chartwells/AAPS Sous Chefs working in the CHS kitchen serving meals to students.

“I’m grateful for my journey because I have a skill set that is universally loved no matter where I go,” Gould said. “Anywhere I move to in the world at this point I can go and get a job the next day so it works out.”

This career path stemmed from Gould’s adolescence. The lunch staff in Gould’s high school taught them a skill that they have integrated into their everyday practices with their students: they make an effort to remember one major thing about each student that passes through the line regularly.

“The lunch people in my life were some of the people that recognized, ‘Oh, hey, you come through here ev- ery day’ and that small conversation really made a difference for me,” Gould said. “I was an angry teenager and having somebody there that’s a friendly face and not just a neutral personality, but a positive personality goes a long way so and that’s all I try to do is be a positive personality for everyone that comes in here.”

Along with the sense of fulfillment that interacting with each student brings, Gould is also proud of the work that Chartwells is doing.

According to Mike DeVries, the director of food service at Chartwells, AAPS has served 100% more lunches to students and 60% more breakfasts than last year.

In order to keep up with the rising numbers of student food consumption, Gould believes that planning ahead and having the numbers laid out beforehand has been a catalyst for success.

Additionally the two decades of restaurant experience has helped the kitchen to reduce food waste as much as possible. Gould aims to have about one to five leftover meals because that indicates that they made enough to feed every student plus extra in case of additional students.

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“My favorite school lunch is the popcorn chicken and mashed potatoes. I think the ingredients could be more fresh but since they are making it on a such a big scale, that would be pretty hard.”

— Aidan Hsia

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“I get a school lunch every single day. My favorite days are the breakfast for lunch days, because I feel like the quality is better those days. It’s a nice surprise when I walk down there and smell the pancakes and syrup.”

— Thomas Reed

This year, the state of Michigan partnered with the No Kid Hungry Organization to make over 100 million dollars of funding available for free school breakfasts and lunches. Meals are paid for with a combination of this funding, USDA fund- ing, and a combination of grants and smaller programs.

Recently, Gould has been making a push to have more food made fresh and in-house.

“I would love to start trying to get rid of more and more frozen fully made meals because nobody wants to come to school to eat a microwave meal,” Gould said. “Plus, moving forward with the new state ordinances that allow every student to eat free, I want [students] to eat food they want to eat and the first thing is to make food fresh, because fresh food is inherently more appealing from a visual perspective, it’s also an easier way to get the nutrition guidelines met.”

DeVries is excited to continue to expand and plan for a more robust composting program. Chartwells is hoping to source more compostable packaging options for the products that they utilize.

They have already begun to make small changes like the switch from foam to compostable fiber lunch trays. Chartwells is also trying to buy more local produce to incorporate into their foods.

“Our food comes from a variety of purveyors,” DeVries said. “Gordon Food Service is our primary supplier, but we work with a few others.”

Other suppliers include Prairie Farms (Michigan Farmer owned dairy) which supplies all of the milk. Cochran Brothers Bakery (Michigan Bakery in Romulus Michigan) which provides hamburger buns, Sliced bread, hot dog buns, and Hoagie Rolls. Lesser Farms and Orchards (Dexter MI) which are the source for local apples. Tom Maceri Produce (produce distributor out of St. Clair Shores) is where the fresh produce and herbs are from.

Gould is also hoping that CHS can expand their kitchen to be able to make food in-house. Currently, CHS gets their pre-cooked food from Pioneer considering they don’t have a big enough kitchen to prepare enough food to feed students at CHS.

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About the Contributors
Anjali Kakarla, Web Editor-In-Chief
Anjali Kakarla is a senior who split-enrolls between Community and Skyline. This is her seventh semester on staff and her third as one of the Web-Editors-In-Chief. When she's not doing schoolwork, playing basketball and golf, or running track for Skyline, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, listening to music and baking. She loves to write and is very excited for journalism this year!
Ailish Kilbride, Web Editor-in-Chief
While trying to pack as many things as she possibly can in her schedule, Ailish Kilbride is entering her 7th semester on staff and her 4th semester in leadership. Ailish is a senior at Community High School. Taking long runs, walking her dog Lulu, playing field hockey at all hours of the day, reading Colleen Hoover books and hanging out with her friends and family are all at the top of her list of favorite things. She can’t wait to be a part of all of the amazing work that the Communicator is going to do this year.

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