Friday, August 11 was the last day of the four week long 2023 OSSD Summer Program for elementary students. A big thank you to all the OSSD Staff and community members who made the summer program possible again this year. A special extra word of gratitude to Lauren Futtner and Amanda Gray for leading the program. Another note of gratitude to everyone in the Business Office who managed the grants and funding to make program possible at no cost to families.
Here is a short video, created by Lance Madzey, sharing the fun on the last day.
By Michelle Holder
There are exciting things on the menu with the new OSSD Director of Child Nutrition and Food
Service, Willy Walker.
His experience in food service is nothing short of impressive; you might recognize his name
from his Bethel catering service, Traveling Willy-B’s, or as a former chef for the Willy-B’s Tavern
at The Three Stallion Inn. He’s been working in restaurants since he was 15, and since
graduating from culinary school in 1986, he has spent his career providing excellent food to
In addition to his own businesses, Walker also has extensive experience managing larger,
systems-based food services for the White River Valley School District, The Abbey Group, and
Greater Claremont Area Food Service, which served 11 schools.
When I asked him what brought him to RUHS, his answer was easy: the kids. “I always liked
being around the kids,” said Walker. “They like to be communicated with. If you can talk to them
like adults, they are so responsive.” His dedication to kids extends beyond the kitchen; as the
coach for the RUHS Boys’ Varsity Boys’ Baseball team, Walker brings enthusiasm and genuine
Walker has many ideas about how to help bring nutritious meals to the schools. Before
accepting his job at the OSSD, he cooked at Roots Farm Market in Middlesex, where he
created meals and baked goods using locally-grown ingredients. This is something he hopes to
bring to the OSSD.
Schools currently use local ground beef from Larocque, local syrup, and some local vegetables.
Once he gets systems in place for the schools, he looks forward to collaborating with more local
farms next year. “It’s great to hear from farmers,” said Walker. “What better thing than to get
local food right here in the village?” Walker encourages local farmers and producers who would
like to partner with the OSSD to reach out to him.
Another way Walker hopes to incorporate local food is by partnering with students in RTCC.
Coming up, he’ll have eggplant in the kitchen and later microgreens planted by our students. In
return, he’ll give food scraps to RTCC’s compost. Walker asserts, “It’s going to make it much
more advantageous for the kids because what they’re growing, they’re going to be eating.”
Expanding menus is another goal. The schools currently serve free breakfast and lunch to
students at all schools. There are now 8 or 9 different breakfast options at RUMHS each day,
including cereal, yogurt parfaits, bagels, and a hot entree with eggs, hashbrowns, and breakfast
And there’s something for everyone, even those with special dietary needs. Offerings include
gluten-free bread and dairy-free milk, a deli station, and vegetarian options along with salad
bars at RUMHS and RES.
Walker also wants to celebrate more holidays across the district. “We’ve got lots of plans to
help celebrate the holidays and the cultures, too, which I think is important because then we get
some more understanding of one another.” In addition to the Thanksgiving meals, he hopes to
add in some special meals for a variety of holidays including, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day,
Easter, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. These meals will also introduce students to new
ingredients and flavors, such as okra.
He also encourages parents to fill out applications for free and reduced lunch, available on the
school’s website. While all students in the district will receive free breakfast and lunch, these
forms help the school district receive federal funding and obtain grants. They can also help
provide additional benefits to the families directly.
Walker says he loves hearing from students and parents about their hopes for school meals. “I
love talking with parents. I’d love to hear from the kids if they want certain items. If I can make
that happen, I will. They’re my customers, same as the parents.”
For questions about the OSSD Nutrition program, or to collaborate with local ingredients,
Walker can be reached by email Willy Walker or through the OSSD
Interviews and Video of the 2023 Summer Program at OSSD.