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Islandia firm wins $22.5M Boston schools contract

The kitchen at the Whitson facility in Huntington

The kitchen at the Whitson facility in Huntington Station, in the late 1990s. Photo Credit: Newsday / Don Jacobsen

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 the Boston school system.

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 schoolchildrens' 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 said in a July 25 news release.

"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."

Whitsons, of Islandia, serves 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 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 news release, 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: "Since 1979, a family tradition seasoned with a firm commitment. . . "This commitment has been our mission from the very beginning—ever since Elmer Whitcomb and his wife,Gina, opened their first restaurant in 1979. Today, under the direction of the Whitcomb family, their vision has grown into one of the most respected dining service companies in the region."

Photo: Whitsons Culinary Group kitchen  in Huntington Station, 1998.

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