Dining Services

The Meatless Monday Movement

If you’ve taken a look at the most recent lunch menu, you may notice that Ridgefield Academy has joined the many schools across the country, both independent and public, in serving up Meatless Mondays.

Chef Paul has created some absolutely delicious meatless dishes and we know students, faculty and staff will agree that the tasty options (consider Southwest roasted pumpkin and black bean cheese quesadillas) are sure to please even the most carnivorous individuals. He tells us: “Planning a meatless meal once a week is a no-brainer for the vegetarians in our community. Once I learned about Meatless Mondays (especially regarding the carbon footprint), it was very easy to adopt this movement as part of our food program. Also, since we recently added locally raised beef to our menu, Meatless Mondays will help defer some of that cost.”

Read More

Just one of the many ideas from The Monday Campaigns, a national movement that dedicates the first day of every week to health, a Meatless Monday is one way to encourage people of all ages to consider the health benefits of including all kinds of foods in their diets. Having a non-meat meal just once per week may help “reduce the risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel,” the website states. This is just one of the steps RA takes to encourage our community to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

The history behind the Monday ideas goes back to World War I when the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of certain items to aid the war effort. In November 1917, New York City hotels saved over 100 tons of meat during one week . The campaign returned during World War II and beyond. In 2003, the idea of Meatless Monday was revived as a public health awareness campaign. The initiative was endorsed by 30 schools of public health. During the last nine years, Meatless Monday has turned into a global movement to include hospitals, schools, worksites and restaurants around the world.
As the food staff at RA, we make all meals from scratch, partake in full animal butchery/meat grinding, make all our own condiments, and trim giant bins of green beans! It is truly a craft; I'm proud to serve our students and staff food grown and raised by people in our immediate and surrounding communities.

RA's Farm-To-School Initiative

Each month, Ridgefield Academy’s strives to provide a menu that is local; in fact, on a regular basis, 15%-25% of items served are grown or raised within a 40-mile range from the campus on West Mountain Rd, often the percentage is even higher.

This fall, RA joined the CT Departments of Education Agriculture’s annual “CT Grown” fall initiative to obtain as much locally-produced food as possible for the first week in October to celebrate farmers and support local economy.

Read More

Headed by RA’s Director of Food Services/Chef, Paul Desiano, school lunches include local meats, dairy, starches, fruits and vegetables from farmers and farm market Desiano himself visits. “I feel we are lucky to have forged some nice relationships with local farmers in order to pull this off. During the fall initiative, when I mentioned to our core farmers (Hickories, Simpaug Farm and Saugatuck Craft Butchery) what we wanted to do, without hesitation they referred me to any colleague they thought might be able to contribute in order to get us to 85%. Thanks to their recommendations, we had over 500 lbs of local meat provisions and 250 lbs of produce and starch for 1,500 lunches that week.”Headed by RA’s Director of Food Services/Chef, Paul Desiano, school lunches include local meats, dairy, starches, fruits and vegetables from farmers and farm market Desiano himself visits. “I feel we are lucky to have forged some nice relationships with local farmers in order to pull this off. During the fall initiative, when I mentioned to our core farmers (Hickories, Simpaug Farm and Saugatuck Craft Butchery) what we wanted to do, without hesitation they referred me to any colleague they thought might be able to contribute in order to get us to 85%. Thanks to their recommendations, we had over 500 lbs of local meat provisions and 250 lbs of produce and starch for 1,500 lunches that week.”

Ridgefield Academy’s commitment to “going local” is highlighted on the CT Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to School webpage (“RA has excelled in sourcing CT Grown”) and includes a link to the RA menu this week. Of the other 80+ participating schools in CT, RA is by far utilizing the most local meat, dairy and produce.

A woman from Gourmavian Farm (Bolton, CT) where Desiano buys chickens told him about the CT Grown initiative. “I hope this program gets promoted more; it’s a great way for schools to get involved in buying fresher food, and what a great way to support local farmers and businesses.”

Desiano has offered an open invitation to the director of the program and also to Governor Malloy to join RA students for lunch next week! The Governor’s office congratulated Ridgefield Academy on our great efforts.