The Burlington Public Schools will be giving a new burger distributor an opportunity to wow the students with a free taste test this Friday and the school district may switch over to the supplier for all of the cafeteria burgers next year.
Craig Robinson, Director of Finance and Operations for Burlington Schools said that on Friday, April 13, b.good Burgers will be grilling up fresh hamburgers for the students. b.good, a local chain of burger joints featuring locally-grown and natural ingredients, . Before coming to town, b.good also on the Town Commons to benefit the Burlington Community Food Pantry.
Robinson said the school district is considering purchasing all of its burgers for the schools' cafeterias from b.good. He said that doing so would free up a portion of the allotment of food from the federal government the school receives by offering free and reduced-price meals.
"We get so many pounds of ground beef and we can have it processed anyway we want," Robinson explained. "Basically what we can do is get more stew meat from the government and we'll have b.good be the hamburger provider."
Robinson added that b.good provides natural meat and that this move will address any concerns parents may have over "lean finely textured beef," commonly known as "pink slime," a mixture of ground beef scraps and connective tissue that is treated with ammonia that has been a point of controversy recently. Robinson said the discussions with b.good began pink slime hit the news, but added the news might be an extra reason to go ahead with the switch.
"We didn’t get any complaints from parents, but I think this has to do with the issue of 'pink slime,'" he said.
Jon Olinto, co-founder and co-owner of b.good, said he is looking forward to the chance to feed the students.
"I'm so excited, Burlington is incredible," he said. "I have tried in other towns to offer a free burger day as a way to introduce our business and have been turned down offering free burgers. The welcome in Burlington has been great."
Olinto said b.good does provide the burgers for a few communities in Massachusetts. The first town they tried it was in Brookline and since they have become the supplier for Concord and Carlisle and a private school in Norwell. He said the company doesn't make much money on providing the food to the schools, mostly enough to cover costs, but he believes both parties benefit. He and his partner are able to reach out to the community and introduce potential customers to their product and the students get natural, locally grown burgers.
"As a business we don’t have to do this, but it's such a good way to make an impact in the community and reach the kids and their parents," he said. "We don’t need to make money because when they eat our burgers they will know what we're all about. It’s about raising consciousness."
Olito said the other side of the equation, in his view, is being able to supply the students with locally grown, natural burgers and support local farmers in the process. He said b.good, which is a Massachusetts-based chain, purchases all of their beef from a local co-op centered in Maine. All the beef is 'natural,' meaning it is anti-biotic free and the cattle are given 80-percent grass and 20-percent grain finish.
Olito said all of the meat comes from about 250 farms, most of which are in New England with a few further south down the coast. Olito said part of b.good's mission is to support both local farms and local communities.
"We want to be part of community," he said. "We want to give back and be a local-oriented small business. And we think serving locally-grown, natural burgers to kids is a good thing to do."