What’s New with Heschel’s Hot Lunch Program?

What’s New with Heschel’s Hot Lunch Program?

Sep 17, 2021

As you have probably heard by now, Heschel’s Hot Lunch program is back for the 2021-22 school year! Heschel parents Janis Mussat and Lauren Black have taken on the roles of Lunch Program Co-Chairs and they are introducing some exciting changes for the program. We spoke with Janis and Lauren to learn more.

What are the menu options, and will they stay the same for the whole school year?

All menu options are displayed through the new app (heschel.hotlunches.net), which shows the full variety of food offerings per day. We have some new vendors and great new healthy options like tuna baguette, avocado toast and a fancy fruit salad with grilled pears, along with the usual classics like pizza, pastas and grilled cheese.

Since ordering will occur on a monthly basis, there is an opportunity to add or delete items from the menu each month based on what people appear to be interested in ordering and what the vendors are able to provide. For example, we have already had a request for a mixed salmon/avocado sushi and that will be officially added to the menu for next month. We will also include specialty items for holidays, for example, latkes during Chanukkah and dairy options (working on blintzes – fingers crossed!) for Shavuot.

What restaurants are participating in the hot lunch program?

Currently, the participating restaurants are Centro CafeSlice N BitesTov Li and Isaac’s Bakery.

What would you guess will be the most popular lunch with the kids this year?

I’m not sure what the most popular lunch item will be, but I know that pizza is always a favourite and that’s why it is available each day. Personally, if I were at the school and ordering my lunch, I would go for the avocado toast, garlic knots and sushi as often as possible. We are hoping the teachers will enjoy the new menu options and take advantage of the lunch program as well.

When should parents sign-up?

Each month, the ordering window will close a week prior to the end of the month. Parents will receive an email reminding them that monthly orders are closing and including the deadline to place their orders.

Orders for October need to be in by Friday, September 24.

Once orders are placed, parents will receive emails each Sunday with reminders of the orders they have placed for their children for the upcoming week. If parents don’t wish to receive these reminders, they can opt out through the app.

There is a new sign-up system now. Tell us how it works.

We are using a new software ordering program which can be found at HeschelHotLunches.net. This ordering platform is already in use by Associated Hebrew Schools, Bialik Hebrew Day School, and other Toronto day schools (as well as schools across Canada). It’s pretty snazzy and will make it more convenient for parents, students, vendors and the school (once folks are familiar with it) to use.

Parents and teachers will be able to order lunches for each day of the week, including Fridays, on a monthly basis. They can keep the same orders all year (if they want) or change up every month.

When the parents (or teachers) log into the portal they will see all menu items and, where available, descriptions of the menu item (including ingredients and size). At the start of the year – or whenever they first join the program – parents/teachers will need to register their child(ren). After that, they can log on whenever they want to look at their child’s orders and change up their orders, within the monthly window. The ordering and payment process all happens through the site.

Currently, payment is done through PayPal, but we are working with the school to be able to introduce a direct credit card option – stay tuned on that!

How are the prices set and where do the funds go?

The prices are set by the vendor with an additional small fundraising portion added on top that goes toward the school. We do realize that prices have gone up from the pre-COVID days but have done our very best to allow as many options as possible with meals ranging from roughly $4-$9 and allowing more flexibility with the ordering. For example, a more expensive menu item can be ordered only once per month. In addition, for those who are able to, there is a section on the Heschel donations page to specifically contribute to the hot lunch program and help students who might not otherwise be able to participate.

Is the challah program being run through the lunch program this year?

Challah will also be ordered through the system and can be changed on a monthly basis too. We will have a variety of challahs this year (plain, sesame, sweet and even a “pretzel challah”). There will also be holiday (round) challahs available during the chaggim.

In addition, as a special bonus, there is also a cookie kit offered for those who wish to purchase and decorate cookies with their children as a fun and delicious weekend activity.

Should be some good lunching!

If you have any questions about the hot lunch or challah program, please contact Lauren and Janis at hotlunches@torontoheschel.org.