Greenhills Lunch Program FAQs

This spring, Greenhills School will embark on a transformational effort to provide a full, tuition-funded food service program. Provided in partnership with PlumSmart, the project entails the expansion of the kitchen and the renovation of the dining room. After more than three years of planning, construction is expected to begin this spring and be completed in time for opening day of the 2018-19 school year.

The following are answers to frequently asked questions about the new Greenhills lunch program.

Greenhills_Interior 08Why is Greenhills introducing a lunch program?
Greenhills School will offer a full-service, tuition-based lunch program in the best interests of our students and families.  Studies show overwhelmingly that students’ performance and well-being is enhanced when they enjoy a healthy lunch. In years past, Greenhills students have either brought their lunch from home, ordered carry-out delivery to the school, or purchased food from a third-party vendor operating out of the school. It is important to note that Greenhills’ attempts to partner with third-party, in-house vendors have never been successful. None of these partners has been able to succeed in an environment where children either pack their lunches or order out.

The lunch experience at Greenhills has been inconsistent, disjointed and, at times, inequitable, particularly for students who cannot afford to order out or purchase food from our in-house, third-party providers. Most independent schools offer a tuition-funded lunch that is provided to all students as part of their overall school program. Greenhills has always been the exception. Our school takes great pride in the academic, athletic and extra-curricular programs we offer. Lunch should be no different, and the addition of a full-service lunch program will complete the well-rounded education we strive to deliver. We are confident that our new lunch program will nourish our students and build a stronger sense of community.

Why PlumSmart?
After reviewing a number of highly-qualified organizations, Greenhills selected PlumSmart, a division of Farmington Hills-based Plum Market, to provide our lunch service. Plum provides the lunch program at peer schools such as Detroit Country Day School and Grosse Pointe Academy as well as several major corporate, service, and higher educational venues, including Penske Corporation, Lear Corporation, Detroit Metro Airport, the Somerset Collection, the University of Michigan and Oakland University.

PlumSmart’s Greenhills kitchen will be operated by an on-site PlumSmart supervisor, head chef and servers. Selections will include two hot entrées (one meat, one vegetarian), a full salad bar and soup choices, deli selections, as well as organic ingredients when possible and quality breads from such local providers as Brown’s Bun Bakery. PlumSmart specializes in healthy options with robust flavors that encourage better nutrition and good eating habits. It relies on organic ingredients when possible, all natural proteins and locally-sourced foods prepared on site. Tableware and utensils will be compostable.

What will be the cost of lunch per student?
The Greenhills lunch program will cost $1,053 per student for the school year. This will provide each student with a full, highly nutritious lunch every day. This works out to $6.88 per meal or $34.40 per week. It is important to note that lunch has been a daily cost for each student, whether prepared at home, ordered in, or purchased at school. This cost is in line with the results of a parent/student survey conducted in December 2016, which asked for estimates of what our families spend to either pack a lunch, order in, or purchase a meal from our in-house, third-party vendor. It is also important to note that a tuition-based lunch program may actually reduce the expense of lunch for families who receive financial aid from the amount they now spend out-of-pocket to provide lunch for their children.

Will children with food allergies be accommodated?
Greenhills_Interior 05Yes. PlumSmart works closely with families to ensure the highest standards of food safety for students without compromising food quality and availability. All products feature clear and comprehensive ingredient labeling, including notifications of the Big 8 Allergens. At its current school locations, PlumSmart supervisors meet regularly with parents whose children have allergies or restricted diets, to ensure an excellent, healthy dining experience.  They will do the same for Greenhills students and families.

Is the current Greenhills kitchen able to support this new program?
No. As early as mid-March, Greenhills will begin a comprehensive expansion of the kitchen, which will encompass its existing footprint and the adjoining maintenance room. Designed in consultation with food industry and construction experts E.F. Whitney, PlumSmart, IDS Architects, and J.S. Vig, the new space will feature a full-service kitchen and open serving area to maximize traffic flow and accommodate the many selections. IDS, which also designed the new school library, has redesigned the dining room to create a more comfortable space that builds community. Details of this construction will be shared soon, along with plans to mitigate any disruptions it may cause later in the school year. The dining room is expected to remain available for use until May. The project is slated for completion in time for the first day of school, September 4, 2018.

Like the new library and the proposed enhancements to our main athletic field and track, the expanded kitchen and renovated dining room will be funded through proceeds from the “Greenhills at 50” capital campaign and internal financing.

How will this affect the school schedule next year? Greenhills could easily add a third lunch period, if necessary, to ensure an outstanding lunch experience for all students. The school is exploring that issue now. In designing the kitchen and the dining room, priorities have been placed on efficiency and comfort. Our goal is to enable diners to make their selections easily and efficiently in the serving area so that they can enjoy a comfortable, relaxing meal in the dining room.

Can families opt-out of the lunch program?
No. The food program, like athletics, college counseling, the arts, robotics, forensics, etc., will be a part of a holistic Greenhills educational experience. All of these activities are funded by tuition even though not all of our students participate in them. Students may still bring a lunch from home, but families cannot opt-out of paying for the meal program.

Greenhills_Interior 03Will students still be allowed to order out for lunch?
Greenhills will no longer allow takeout delivery during school hours. Students may order takeout after school if they choose. The Gryphon Den will also remain open for students to purchase after-school snacks. We are confident that the quality, variety, nutritional value, and convenience of the new lunch program will minimize demand for lunch alternatives.

Will there still be senior lunch privileges?
Greenhills has historically allowed seniors – and qualifying juniors during the final marking period – to leave campus for lunch. This privilege will continue. It is worth noting, however, that many of these students do not take advantage of this privilege due to scheduling constraints and the time it takes to leave campus and return in time for class.

Will parent volunteers have access to the new kitchen for special events?
Because PlumSmart will be responsible for ensuring Washtenaw County health and safety regulations are maintained in the kitchen, no unlicensed user will be allowed to prepare food in this space. However, honoring school traditions that involve food and the dining room remains important, and arrangements can be made with PlumSmart to coordinate service for special events.