School Nutrition Trends: Charcuterie in Chicopee

Author: Emily Raber, UMass Amherst Dietetic Intern at Chicopee Public Schools

One of the latest trends in school nutrition is charcuterie boards, because everyone loves the classic, complementary combination of cheese, meats, fruits, vegetables, and crackers.

Ann Juliano, food manager at Chicopee Comprehensive High School (CCHS) in Chicopee, MA, was inspired by a post from Tips for School Meals that Rock that featured a charcuterie board for students. Juliano suggested that it be implemented at CCHS as a trial, which began in February 2022. While the exact contents change day-to-day, each charcuterie board features a variety of different types of fruits, cheeses, and crackers, paired with salami, pepperoni, cucumbers, broccoli, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and more. The endless mix and match combinations help keep the menu fresh and exciting to students.

The staff at CCHS takes their charcuterie boards up a level with their beautiful designs, including the meat “rose.” It is constructed by taking a small, rimmed cup and layering the slices of meat around the rim to create the layered rose look. Sometimes a cherry tomato is added as a final touch to dress up the center.

The response to the boards was phenomenal, with the average number of students getting school lunch at CCHS jumping from 650 in January 2022 to 723 in February, an 11.3% increase in school lunch participation. In February, 5.3% of total meals sold were charcuterie boards, beating other student favorites like nachos and grilled cheese meals. In March, school lunch participation was still 7.7% higher than in January, showing charcuterie boards have staying power as students continue to choose them.

After the success of this meal offering at CCHS, Chicopee High School started offering charcuterie boards in March and student lunch participation increased by 9.7% from January 2022. Due to the success at the high school level, charcuterie boards are now being offered at most of the Chicopee Public Schools with rave reviews, especially in elementary schools.

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