It’s nearly Thanksgiving, and the cafeteria at DREAM Mott Haven is abuzz as elementary and middle school students grab trays of not just turkey, but sweet potato mash, stuffing, and baked apples. But this special meal is not just in celebration of the coming holiday. Free fresh and healthy breakfasts and lunches have become the daily norm for more than 1,000 students at the DREAM Charter School at 20 Bruckner this school year, thanks to DREAM’s new from-scratch cooking program, created in partnership with Brigaid.
“We are proud to partner with Brigaid in their effort to make school meals that are high quality, healthy, and accessible to all children,” said DREAM co-Chief Executive Officer Richard Berlin. “Food has such a crucial impact on every part of a child’s life, including mental and physical well-being, social-emotional growth, and performance in the classroom. At DREAM, we take great strides to ensure our students have everything they need to fulfill their greatest potential, and this new from-scratch food program is the latest support we can provide for them and their families.”
Founded by former Noma head chef Dan Giusti, Brigaid is a team of professional chefs who help institutional foodservice programs thrive. The company provides strategic program assessments, hands-on staff training, and full-time chef placements to empower programs with the culinary expertise needed to consistently serve wholesome and high-quality meals. At DREAM, the majority of food is prepared from scratch in three state-of-the-art kitchens by an in-house culinary team under the guidance of Brigaid chef Persefoni Vordokas. All meals are free.
“At DREAM, we take great strides to ensure our students have everything they need to fulfill their greatest potential, and this new from-scratch food program is the latest support we can provide for them and their families.”
Richard Berlin, DREAM co-Chief Executive Officer
“Everyone deserves access to nourishing food that is thoughtfully prepared,” said Brigaid Founder and Chief Executive Officer Dan Giusti. “We are extremely excited about this opportunity to collaborate with DREAM on building what we hope will become an exemplary school foodservice program.”
89% of DREAM students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and children in DREAM’s East Harlem and South Bronx communities have historically been among the most likely in New York City to face food insecurity in their lifetimes. Partnering with Brigaid is the latest step in DREAM’s work to ensure students and families are fully supported. During the pandemic, for example, the organization distributed more than 10,000 bags of free food to its communities in partnership with S. Katzman Produce, led by Stefanie Katzman, a DREAM Board Member.
DREAM Charter School at 20 Bruckner Boulevard, which officially opened its doors in early 2023, is equipped with three restaurant-style kitchens that currently serve breakfast, lunch, and snacks to students. Over the next several years, DREAM looks to expand this program to its other campuses in East Harlem and Highbridge.
“At DREAM, we are deeply committed to educating the whole child, and partnering with Brigaid allows us to create even more supports and access to things children need to lead full, healthy, productive lives,” said DREAM co-Chief Executive Officer Eve Colavito. “I’m looking forward to all the strides we will make with this year’s from-scratch food program, and where we will take it in the future.”