Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public School leaders announced on Wednesday a new $17 million food service contract between the district and City Fresh Foods.
With this new contract, City Fresh Foods, a Black-owned business based in Roxbury, will be providing breakfast, lunch, after-school meals, after school snacks, and summer meals for Boston students starting July 1.
As the largest non-construction contract the city has awarded to a certified Black-owned business, city leaders lauded the contract as “historic.”
“This partnership is personal for me and many City Fresh employees because we are BPS families, and nothing is more important to us than taking care of the families in our community,” said Sheldon Lloyd, City Fresh cofounder and CEO. “The City Fresh team and I stand ready for an awesome challenge and the opportunity to feed Boston Public School community students, faculty and staff.”
BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said Tuesday she understands the benefits of students having fresh food, adding that children can’t learn when they go hungry and this partnership is “one more lever in the all-hands-on-deck approach” the district has been taking with the city to ensure student have what they need to succeed.
She and city leaders stressed students also will have a variety of “culturally relevant” meals through this contract with City Fresh Foods.
“It’s an added bonus to know that not only will BPS students continue to have nutritious meals for breakfast, lunch, and school during the summer, but that they will also have access to a wide range of culturally relevant foods,” Cassellius said. “As a Roxbury resident myself, I am thrilled to be partnering with a business like City Fresh that represents the heart and soul of Roxbury, and that we’re able to support a Black-owned business right here in the neighborhood.”
City Fresh Foods will design menus to “ensure high-quality and nutrient-rich meals” for BPS students and work with the district to fulfill goals aligned with the Good Food Purchasing Program, which Wu advocated for during her time as a city councilor.
Additionally, the City Fresh Foods team will have a registered dietician provide a nutritional analysis for all the meals and monitor student participation to prevent food waste.
This announcement follows Wu’s proposal last week to spend $2 billion to overhaul Boston’s deteriorating school facilities. During Tuesday’s press conference, Wu said this announcement was another part of that.
“We know what makes for great education and great schools. We see examples all across the state, and you can walk into many of our suburban schools, and we celebrate and are grateful for their example and all they’re doing to lift up young people across the Commonwealth,” Wu said. “Our Boston kids deserve every bit of that here, too — the beautiful buildings, the fresh and delicious food, the opportunities that we’re creating.”
The initial proposal for the BPS vended meals contract, which focused on improving the quality of meals and finding a vendor that could provide new ways to deliver meal services, was presented in January. Then an evaluation committee made up of BPS and city staff unanimously recommended City Fresh be awarded the contract.
Segun Idowu, Boston’s chief of economic opportunity and inclusion, said this is part of the city’s plan to “not just talk about equity, not just talk about diversity, and investing in businesses owned by people of color in small businesses” founded and based in Boston.
“This announcement doesn’t matter if we’re not continuing to do this beyond today,” Idowu said.