Wellness (WITS)

Co-Chairs: Nancy Fey, Cristina Latici-McAvoy and Anna Rice-Yaffe

Wellness in the Schools (WITS) is a non-profit, community based organization founded in 2005 in order to improve the environment, nutrition, and fitness in NYC public schools. In an effort to combat childhood obesity and create healthier environments in which to learn, WITS developed Cook for Kids where local chefs work alongside kitchen staff to create healthier meals for NYC’s public school children.

And now, an open letter from PS3′s WITS liaison,  Deborah Soffel:


Deborah Soffel
Wellness in The School Liaison

September 11, 2015

To the PS 3 Community:

It is again an honor and thrill to be back with you this school year as we continue the WITS Cook for Kids program in the lunchroom. I would also like to introduce Monica Chen, a FoodCorp Service member who will be partnering with WITS this year and who will join me at school from time to time.

This September we welcome back School Food kitchen staff Maria and Joel. Sadly, Head Cook Willie will be out for an extended medical leave over the next four or five months. We wish Willie all the best for a speedy recovery.

The kitchen staff will continue to follow the School Food Alternative Lunch Menu which features many scratch cooked recipes, whole grains, and fresh vegetables. School Food is also beginning a program featuring fresh local produce each month. For the rest of this month and into October they will be featuring local NY state apples every Thursday.

In addition, the very flourishing wooly pockets garden on the school play roof, carefully nurtured and tended by parent Cristina Latici with the help of some dedicated parent volunteers, will be regularly harvested by parents and students to serve in the salad bar for as long as the growing season allows. Over the next few weeks students should keep an eye out for freshly harvested eggplant.

In addition to my work in the school kitchen I will continue my outreach, spending time visiting classrooms. Our WITS Bits mini nutritional lessons are available to any teacher that asks. Custom classes are also available if there is a topic the community would like me to focus on. In June we ended the school year with a very popular lesson making a variety of fresh fruit smoothies, an activity that many classes got to participate in.

This year we begin the WITS lab program, a series of hands on cooking classes that highlight seasonal ingredients, cooking techniques, nutritional concepts and a recipe tasting of the finished dishes.

I look forward to meeting everyone this year. Please feel free to stop by the cafeteria to say hello or email me at: Deborah@wellnessintheschools.org

Thanks for all your support!

Deborah Soffel