The culinary arts program on the Perth Amboy Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools (MCVTS) has become the first public school restaurant in the nation to be certified “green” by the Green Restaurant Association.
With 144 “green points” on the association’s rigorous certification scale and having implemented 45 environmental steps, the Perth Amboy culinary program went 44 percent beyond the minimum requirements to be a two-star certified green restaurant, according to the national nonprofit organization, which helps restaurants to become more environmentally sustainable.
“Perth Amboy Tech is the first diploma-granting culinary secondary school to earn Certified Green Restaurant status,” said Michael Oshman, CEO and founder of the Green Restaurant Association. “To have a public school do this is definitely groundbreaking.”
MCVTS celebrated the designation with a gourmet lunch for state and local officials and district administrators at the restaurant.
“We’re the only establishment in Middlesex County, including restaurants and hotels, to receive this certification,” said Chef Stephen J. Moir, the Perth Amboy Campus culinary arts instructor.
He explained that the process of greening the kitchen took place over two years with the support of the board of education and the MCVTS administration. It involved such changes as eliminating paper plates and plastic utensils, installing LED lighting, and instituting a comprehensive recycling program. He said the school had been switching to energy efficient appliances over the last few years.
“We were allowed to change our buying practices with support from the administration and now utilize local and organic produce and seafood mostly from New Jersey,” Moir said.
Instead of using disposable items for student meals, the students now use dishes and utensils that can be washed, he added.
“The students must be commended for buying in and taking ownership of this certification,” Moir said.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge.
The Perth Amboy Campus, the Edison Academy and the Woodbridge Academy have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools. The East Brunswick Campus has been designated a National Green Ribbon School in recognition of its “green” curriculum and sustainable building management practices. The district celebrated its centennial in 2014.