Tag Archives: School Nutrition Program

Local Celebrity Chef Fueling Our Children’s Engines With Great Food

by Lola E. Peters


Emme Ribeiro Collins and her family moved to Seattle from Brazil when she was only 6 years old, a first grader. Lunch is the main event of the day in Brazil, and school day lunches were prepared by her grandmother or mother. She remembers them as delicious, filling, and made from scratch. She remembers the care and tenderness put into those meals. 

It was with this memory she first entered the lunchroom at her new Seattle elementary school. Jarred into cultural dissonance by food she didn’t recognize and found unpalatable, served impersonally without any connection to her culture or health needs, she often chose to go without lunch. “Foods I found okay were things like spaghetti, which was homey and comforting … I often chose to go hungry at school and just ate at home.”

Now, in what she calls, “a full-circle moment that is super important to me,” the executive chef of Seattle Public Schools (SPS), and recent winner of the Sept. 10 episode of the cooking show Chopped, Collins is still amazed how poorly our culture feeds our children during their most physically and mentally vulnerable years. She and her boss Aaron Smith, director of Nutrition Services, are teaming together to reimagine how to serve this youthful clientele.

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Free Lunches for Youth All Summer Long at Schools and Community Centers

by Ben Adlin


At locations across South Seattle and much of the rest of the state this summer, schools and community groups will provide free lunches for young people regardless of their ability to pay. Some sites will offer lunches on all weekdays, while others will have seven-day meal packs available for pickup on a weekly basis.

Lunches will be available to anyone 18 and under, whether or not they’re enrolled at that school. Parents and guardians may also pick up meals on behalf of their children.

The service is part of an expanded federal program that typically provides lunches only in areas where more than half of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. During the pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) opened eligibility to all areas.

“USDA has said anybody can operate a summer site. You don’t have to qualify with this 50% or more needy children,” said Leanne Eko, director of child nutrition services at the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), which oversees the program in the state. 

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