Islandia firm to feed Boston schoolkids

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A Long Island company, Whitsons Culinary Group, has won a three-year, $22.5-million contract to serve cafeteria meals and snacks to grade-school children in Boston.

The company said it will add 11 full-time jobs on Long Island as a result of the contract, and some of the ingredients for the schoolchildren's meals will come from the Island's farms.

"Boston Public Schools has selected a new school food provider to service the city's 86 schools that do not have full-service kitchens. Whitsons Culinary Group, a family-owned company, will begin serving BPS at the beginning of the upcoming school year," the city school system announced on July 25.

"We will be producing fresh meals daily in our Islandia culinary center, which is a USDA-inspected, FDA-approved facility," Whitsons spokeswoman Holly Von Seggern said.

"The meals will be flash frozen to preserve quality and freshness and delivered daily in temperature-controlled delivery vehicles to [the Boston Public Schools] from Islandia."

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Whitsons, which won the contract in a bidding process, provides institutional meals to school districts on Long Island and elsewhere, along with service to nursing homes.

The company helped organize restaurant donations to feed rescue and relief workers in downtown Manhattan near Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it delivered hot meals to Salvation Army workers and to the staff of the office of the chief medical examiner of New York during the crisis.

In last week's announcement, Boston schools Superintendent Carol R. Johnson said, "This is an exciting step forward in our work to bring the healthiest, most appetizing meals to our students."

Whitsons will serve the children "a variety of hot entrees, made with lean proteins, whole grains and fresh and frozen vegetables," Von Seggern said.

Whitsons Culinary Group says on its website that the company was founded in 1979, when "Elmer Whitcomb and his wife, Gina, opened their first restaurant."

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