With impressive press coverage, Marshall High School Principal Jay Pearson officially opened Marshall High School’s new café-style salad/sandwich/soup bar, “The Statesmen Station” on Thursday, September 12 to an audience filled with Fairfax County Public Schools Board members; the new Superintendent, Dr. Karen Garza; state and local politicians; guests from the Pew Charitable Foundation Kid’s Safe and Healthful Foods Project, David Esquith, the Director of Safe and Healthy Students, Department of Education; and Dr. Janey Thornton, the Deputy Under Secretary for USDA in charge of the National School Lunch Program.
“I am WOWED by the turnout,” Superintendent Garza said to the crowd. Garza recognized Penny McConnell, FNS Director for the “good work underway,” like this providing our kids with healthful choices. Garza also mentioned RFFK President JoAnne Hammermaster and sharing how impressed she was with the lead RFFK has taken in “creating momentum around this important work.”
Penny McConnell spoke on the challenges a school district faces in providing variety in a menu that must meet USDA guidelines, be affordable and meet the personal, cultural and therapeutic needs of students.
School Board member Ryan McElveen spoke of how support for the pilot kitchen was “an expression of strong interest in a transformative change in our food,” and intimated at future evaluations of the food service’s efficacy.
“The schools and school systems on the cutting edge of these issues are leading in academic performance and where their graduates end up going,” said David Esquith, Director of Safe and Healthy Students for the Department of Education, “you are the cutting edge of what many school systems will adopt across the country.”
The highlight of the morning was a live performance of the “wRap” by MC Horne and the Fresh wRappers. Featured in RFFK News last month, the “wRap” was developed by the students along with Marshall English teacher Matthew Horne and local music teacher Sean Mahon. Horne performed the rap verses with students.
RFFK President JoAnne Hammermaster summed up the event, “It has been a complex process to bring this pilot program to Marshall. We have learned so much about what it takes to make this type of endeavor a success, but it comes down to the fact that collaboration was the key to success: working with the support of the school board, Food and Nutrition Services, FCPS’ Facilities, Jay Pearson at Marshall, and all the parents and students that wanted to make this happen. We will use the next several months to determine which foods are hits, and which ones may need to have minor adjustments. The important thing is that the students are trying new, fresh foods and making healthful choices. We are so excited that the Statesmen Station is now open! We look forward to this concept being the model.”