Living Proof: Chef Jenny DeVivo Shows Us What it Means to be a “Lunch Lady” Making a Difference
Not all chefs work in restaurants, and some are striving for changes to our infrastructure. Jenny DeVivo, the Culinary Director for the Up Island Schools on Martha’s Vineyard, has found her passion through transforming the school lunch program. Her culinary career began when she was pursuing music and worked at restaurants to earn extra money. Eventually, she transitioned to working as a chef full time. When she created the Up Island Schools Food Program, Jenny saw an opportunity to improve both nutrition and education around school lunch when she noticed how there were numerous farms and fisheries being underutilized. She curated relationships with these and other local vendors to fit her budget and also benefit their businesses. Now her students eat fresh, local, nutritious food that also helps the island’s economy thrive. Given her strong ties to the community, she is also able to spread information and awareness about what they eat and where it comes from. She is aware that people perceive Martha’s Vineyard as a place where only the wealthy live; however, many middle and working-class families live here as well. She firmly believes her style of school lunch program can be extended to any school in the US. Here we explore her story and her call to action for the nation.