The MCS Food Program ensures that each day’s meal is made from locally sourced, sustainably-raised foods. Most of our produce, dairy, eggs and meat come from the tri-state area, and our flour, rice and dried beans are from no farther away than New England. We carefully source the poultry from nearby family-run farms, and all of the pork and most of the ground beef we serve comes from the MCS Farm. In addition to preparing our meals from scratch as often as possible, we strive to minimize processed, packaged foods and to limit foods produced by companies with policies and practices that are not in line with MCS’ mission and values.

List of 4 items.

  • Morning Snack

    A light snack is served mid-morning to help students make it from breakfast to lunch. Snack offerings include things like fresh fruit, crackers, homemade baked goods, popcorn, cheddar cheese, cider, regular milk and chocolate milk. Students in the seventh and eighth grade receive a slightly heartier snack such as eggs, French toast or bagels and cream cheese.
  • Lunch

    Lunch is an important time of the day when students’ sense of community is enhanced by sharing the same meal and taking the time to forge new relationships with peers they might not otherwise seek out. Each menu includes a protein, a carbohydrate, cooked and fresh vegetables and fresh fruit, as well as 2% milk from a local dairy. We typically have one day without meat on the menu, and no more than one day per week with beef or pork as the protein.

    Each week’s menu is published in Nuestra Semana and on our website, and each day’s menu, including a comprehensive list of ingredients, is distributed to each classroom on the lunch carts to help teachers and lunch monitors manage allergies and dietary restrictions.
  • Friday Bag Lunch

    On Fridays students bring lunch from home and families are encouraged to support our sustainability mission by packing food in reusable containers and minimizing packaged, processed foods. Sodas, caffeinated beverages and candy are prohibited. We ask that families refrain from sending food in glass containers for safety reasons.

    For questions about the menu or requests for recipes, please contact Head Chef Emilie Esders. eesders@manhattancountryschool.org.

    For more information on bringing food from home, please see our Allergy Policy or contact the School Nurse, Stephanie Bloom. sbloom@manhattancountryschool.org
  • Food Program Mission

    The MCS Food Program seeks to support the core values of the School’s overall mission and bring the Farm to life for our students every day.

List of 5 items.

  • Sustainability

    The Food Program currently spends approximately 75% of our budget on locally produced foods (meaning food raised in the tri-state area and the northeast). We also try to reflect the Farm curriculum by composting all of our food waste, minimizing landfill and preparing food that is in season as often as possible.
  • Community

    The Food Program celebrates the diversity of our community by creating menus that include a variety foods and flavors from around the world and supporting the School’s longstanding family-style lunch model which brings students together each day to share a communal meal.
  • Activism

    The Food Program recognizes the powerful politics of food and the need for greater food justice in our society and works to promote these ideals in all our communications to our community. We also help students become aware of:
    • who raised their food;
    • what they put in their bodies;
    • where their food comes from;
    • and why knowing all of this is important to their lives and the lives of the people around them.
  • Academics

    The Food Program supports classroom-based cooking projects and offers Afterschool cooking classes whenever possible to support various parts of the curriculum, including math, science and social studies, and teach students what goes into the food they eat.
  • Collaboration

    The Food Program is grateful to the MCS Farm for all of the extra food it raises for us to use—including beef, pork and a variety of vegetables—in our daily lunches. If you have any questions about the Food Program, please contact Emilie Esders

Dietary Accommodations:

In general, MCS students are expected to participate in the family-style lunch provided prepared by the kitchen except when prohibited by allergies or other dietary restrictions, which must be on file with the School Nurse. We encourage families of children with documented food allergies or restrictions to review the upcoming week’s menu, which is posted in both English and Spanish on the MCS website, and send in an alternative to the specific menu item (for instance, gluten-free pasta on a day when pasta is on the menu) so their child can participate in the day's lunch along with their peers.

Please indicate any dietary restrictions, allergies or intolerances on Magnus Health and notify your child’s teacher if you have questions about your child’s diet as it pertains to food served at school. Most often, teachers will then direct families to make an appointment with the school nurse, Stephanie Bloom, to discuss their child’s dietary needs. If a child’s medical history indicates the need for an alternative plan for snack and lunch, a doctor’s note should be on file in our nurse’s office. Stephanie can be reached by phone at 212-348-0952, ext. 292 or via email

While it is not possible for us to accommodate every dietary restriction in our community, MCS is a nut-free facility. Families are asked to be careful not to send in foods that contain nuts, including snacks that are meant to be enjoyed after school. Foods for classroom celebrations such as birthdays should include a detailed list of all the ingredients. We do offer a vegetarian option, such as tofu, hard boiled eggs or beans, on days when we are serving an animal protein for lunch in order to accommodate students who follow a vegetarian diet or whose religion prohibits the consumption of certain meats.

Meet the Food Program Team

List of 3 members.

  • Photo of Emilie Esders

    Emilie Esders 

    Head Chef
  • Romina Dedvukaj 

    Assistant Cook
  • Dora Vukaj 

    Kitchen Assistant

Our Suppliers

Food Program FAQ

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • Q: How much food do we receive from the MCS Farm?

    The MCS Farm is scaled to raise food for the staff and students who work and learn there each year. The only food they are currently able to raise for the city specifically is beef and pork. However, gardening isn’t an exact science, so whenever they have a “bumper crop” of things like onions or squash they are happy to share it with the kitchen in the city.
  • Q: Why is it important to eat locally raised foods as often as possible?

    Locally raised foods are better for us and for the world:
    • Foods are at their most nutritious when they are first harvested, and the old-fashioned farming
    • methods that most small farms still practice produce foods with more nutritional value than
    • foods that are raised to endure the long journey from the field to the supermarket shelf.
    • Purchasing locally raised foods helps your local economy.
    • Locally raised foods have a much smaller “carbon footprint” because they don’t have to travel as far to get to market.
  • Q: Why prioritize locally raised foods that are not certified organic over organically raised foods from farther away?

    Most local foods are raised the same way as foods that are certified organic; small farms simply can’t afford to become certified or to maintain the extensive records required to maintain certification. And organic food raised on large factory farms are often not as nutritious as food raised at smaller local farms where the nutrients in the soil are maintained by a diversity of crops.
  • Q: Isn’t “eating local” and shopping at Farmer’s Market something only wealthy people can afford?

    Many locally raised foods are actually less expensive than foods in the supermarket, but shopping at Farmer’s Markets can often require extra resources and time. However, it is important for everyone to demand locally raised fresh foods in order to bring prices down and make nutritious food more readily available to all because the “hidden” costs of mass-produced, processed foods, like the ever-rising cost of healthcare and prescription medications, are far greater than the difference in price between beef raised with hormones, antibiotics and a corn-based diet and pasture-fed beef raised without hormones and antibiotics.
  • Q: Why does MCS pay particular attention to where our animal proteins come from?

    Meat, eggs and dairy raised with hormones and antibiotics pass those medicines directly on to us, promoting antibiotic resistance and affecting our hormones, which is especially dangerous for children. Factory farms in the Midwest feed cows a corn-based diet that strips the soil of nutrients. And too often animals raised on these farms live in conditions that are not only inhumane, but that detract from the healthfulness of the meat and milk they produce.
  • Q: Why is it better to prepare food “from scratch?”

    Preparing food from whole ingredients helps to minimize the amount of processed, packaged foods-- which contain things like high fructose corn syrup--we consume. It also helps to educate people about what certain foods are actually made of.
  • Q: Why is it important for children to learn how food is raised and how to prepare it themselves?

    When children make their own food, they are more willing to eat it! Cooking also helps them to think about where their food comes from, how it is raised and what ingredients are in certain foods.
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