When Bryan MacPhail’s daughter started kindergarten last fall at Cold Spring School, the elementary school sent out an SOS asking parents for help finding new providers for its faltering hot-lunch program. MacPhail, who currently runs three summer restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard Island and trained in the classical culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York, answered the call.
“This is my way of helping the community — I’m trying to help change the way kids eat,” said MacPhail, who launched Locally Grown Kids to provide a full-service hot-lunch program at the school. “We need kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and less preservatives with fewer plastics and less microwaving.”
MacPhail’s kitchen offers almost entirely organic preordered lunches from an online menu that frequently changes to reflect the seasonal availability of quality ingredients.
“I’ve been impressed with their palates,” he said, when asked what it is like to satisfy the discerning 5-year-old critic. “I’ve made a very big menu with an eclectic variety of choices, and I’m shocked that some of the items that I put there geared toward the faculty are popular with the kindergartners.”
MacPhail currently prepares all of the hot and cooked meals himself and says that volume is now his biggest obstacle. Locally Grown Kids is expanding quickly and has already grown to include the lunch programs at El Montecito Early School and Crane Country Day School, with several other elementary schools set to come on board in the fall.
“The beautiful thing is that this whole program is malleable to what people want,” explained MacPhail, who encourages parents to get involved in helping create the best possible program. In fact, he says that the parents’ best interest has remained a goal for him.
“I make things as affordable as I can without losing money,” he said. “I’m not so worried about the bottom line. I get a hug every day from my daughter, so that makes it worth it for me.” Here are some favorite dishes:
Make Your Own Pasta and Pizza: “We hand roll the pizza dough and top it with homemade sauce and all-natural cheese,” said MacPhail. Kids can choose the shape of their pasta and what type of sauce and veggies they want on it. “Penne with butter is always really popular with the littler ones,” he said.
Finger Foods: “Kids love hamburgers, and I didn’t want to take that away from them,” he said. “But we should take what kids like and make them in their best possible version.” The burgers come as hormone- and antibiotic-free, grass-fed meat patties on whole wheat buns with no high-fructose-corn-syrup ketchup. He uses the same philosophy with his wild-caught fish sticks, and nitrate-free hot dogs and chicken nuggets.
Salads and Gluten-Free Options: Caprese, Caesar, and mixed green salads and wahoo fish tacos are often made with produce from the farmers’ markets. “I’m finding the best products that I can,” he said. “That’s what I promised people. I’m not just feeding their kids; I’m feeding my kids, as well.”
See locallygrownkids.net, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (914) 400-6424 to learn more.