"A catered affair": The Donoho School places order for happier, healthier lunches
by Rachael Griffin
rgriffin@annistonstar.com
Jan 22, 2013 | 3222 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Graham Nelson eats a serving of chicken chili with a cheesy corn muffin as part of The Donoho School’s lunch catering program. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Graham Nelson eats a serving of chicken chili with a cheesy corn muffin as part of The Donoho School’s lunch catering program. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
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School cafeterias don’t have a reputation for serving up the tastiest — or the healthiest — cuisine. But that’s not a concern for students of The Donoho School in Anniston, where there’s not a fish stick or mystery meat platter in sight. Instead students are chowing down on blackened shrimp and chicken tacos.

That’s because lunch at The Donoho School is a catered affair, with students ordering in from local and chain restaurants each day.

Kim Thompson, a parent volunteer of the Donoho Parent Association, said via email that as of this year students may order from an alternating choice of 10 restaurant vendors: Chick-Fil-A, HoneyBaked Ham, Garfrerick’s Cafe, Jasmine Chinese Cuisine, Wendy’s, Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Arby’s, Sneaky Pete’s Hot Dogs and Papa John’s paired with TCBY.

Thompson said the school has a two-week rotation of vendors with a different menu each week, and some vendors change up their menu items throughout the school year. Each vendor agrees to provide three meal options and deliver the order to the Lower School and Upper School.

“There was a survey last year at the end of the school year, so we are trying to improve based on the feedback from students and parents,” Thompson said in her email.

As Thompson explained, students place their order the day before the vendors are scheduled to provide lunch, but adjustments can be made on the morning of delivery.

“This is an effort to provide healthier options and a bigger variety,” Thompson said.

Nikky Chen, general manager of Jasmine Chinese, Thai and Sushi in Oxford, said she’s really happy to offer Donoho students meals from her restaurant. She said a member of the Donoho Parent Association, who happened to be a Jasmine customer, approached her about the idea. The parent told Chen she “believed the kids would eat healthy and eat fresh” from the restaurant.

“That’s what we offer them,” Chen said.

Chen said Jasmine provides the school with lunches two Thursdays a month and feeds between 160 to 200 students. The January menu options are broccoli chicken and rice, black peppercorn shrimp and rice, chicken lo mein, sesame chicken and rice, shrimp lo mein, and hunan chicken and rice.

All of the lunches are prepared from scratch, Chen said. The restaurant starts working on the school’s order three hours early, and she said she has extra help on the scheduled menu day.

“I think Jasmine is pretty popular with the students. If they need us more often we’d be happy to help,” Chen said.

Dave Garfrerick, chef and owner of Garfrerick’s Café in Oxford, said he loves helping the school serve healthier lunches.

Garfrerick’s fare is offered to students every Wednesday. In winter months, students have a choice of meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, a baked potato with broccoli, chicken chili with a cheesy corn muffin, orange glazed chicken tacos with rice and sweet potatoes, and a baked potato with creamy Cajun shrimp.

In the warmer months Garfrerick said he will offer fish tacos and lighter dishes.

He said the restaurant breaks even as far as costs while feeding between 80 and 120 students.

“Our benefit is we get people to try our food and know who we are,” he said. “I think it’s a good step in the community.”
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