Pin It

Statehouse Shake-Up 

Side Dishes: Legislators get local lunches

Visitors to the Vermont StateHouse Cafeteria this week will notice a few changes. The kitchen has been refurbished; there are new carpets. Even the marble has been polished to a new luster. But the most substantive adjustment is to the food and the people who make it.

Between November 2003 and November 2007, FitzVogt, a dining-service provider based in Walpole, N.H., managed the lunchroom. But when it came time to run for re-election, the company lost out to a Vermont-based biz, the Abbey Group, headquartered in the tiny Franklin County town of Sheldon. The AG employs about 250 staffers in schools and businesses throughout the state, and, according to VP of Operations Scott Choiniere, is responsible for feeding 25 percent of the state's elementary and high school students.

"We've been awarded the [StateHouse] contract for the next three years," boasts Choiniere. "We had the better package, evidently." One possible deciding factor: "We specialize in buying local, as close to Vermont as possible." He also notes that the AG used to cook for Vermont legislators before the larger FitzVogt came to town.

"We have an almost exclusively Vermont supply, but not totally," Choiniere says, noting that diners will feast on local products "from A to Z." These include the usual suspects, such as milk, bread, eggs and cheese, as well as condiments, candies, mints, pickles and pies. The cafeteria will have two homemade soups, a salad bar, a deli station and one to three "chef-created entrées" each day.

The AG serves breakfast and lunch to politicians and plebes alike - the eatery is open to the public. But, Choiniere warns, "It's really hectic when the legislature is in session."

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

More by Suzanne Podhaizer

About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose,... more


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

foodie poll

What are you MOST interested in learning more about?

  • Food-related events, festivals and other gatherings
  • Bars and restaurants — where should I eat out?
  • Farms and agriculture — what's up with the people producing our food?
  • Issues: What are the social, environmental and economic impacts of my food choices?
  • How to cook better meals at home

View Results

Latest in Food News

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2016 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So Champlain St Ste 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation