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District's nutrition efforts earn Farm to School award


Lenoir County Public Schools has won recognition for its efforts to promote good nutrition and fresh food awareness among its students, honored recently as a recipient of the 2019 inaugural Farm to School of NC Award.

The award, given this year to only 11 school districts in the state, recognizes the work of school nutrition, health professionals, educators and community partners to lead farm to school in North Carolina in providing agriculture, food and nutrition education, hands-on gardening and cooking, as well as purchasing and serving local food.

LCPS won a bronze award, meeting standards in at least five award criteria. Danelle Smith, the district’s child nutrition direction, and Amy Jones, director of high school education and Career and Technical Education (CTE), completed an extensive application that highlighted use of locally sourced food and nutrition-related education efforts.

“The Farm to School Award is very special in that it shows the collaboration between two departments – CTE and Child Nutrition,” Smith said. “Together we meet the needs of our students every day. The collaboration is a combination of offering fresh fruits and vegetables on the menus while also having curriculum that teaches the process of growing those fruits and vegetables. Nutrition education is being presented with both departments and there is a clear collaboration that will continue into the future.”

LCPS’s applications listed a range of fresh food awareness efforts.

Students at all 17 schools are served local food, cafeteria menus have expanded to include salads and other fresh produce, the district’s CTE program includes nutrition and cooking classes, students at six elementary schools receive twice-weekly fruit and fresh vegetable snacks, agricultural education and FFA chapters flourish in high schools and middle schools, gardening programs are active at the elementary, middle and high school levels and schools often partner with businesses, Lenoir Community College and farms for culinary arts, gardening and farming activities.

“I am proud to work with the dedicated Child Nutrition staff at Lenoir County Public Schools,” Jones said. “The department’s focus on the variety of food offerings in the cafeteria including fresh fruits and vegetables pairs seamlessly with Career and Technical Education agricultural and marketing programs. The child nutrition department ensures that all children have access to fresh, healthy food and the CTE department ensures that children know how the food is grown and produced.”

The award was presented Sept. 20 during the Farm to School Summit 2019 in Raleigh. Accepting for LCPS in addition to Smith and Jones were Superintendent Brent Williams, Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, Moss Hill Elementary cafeteria manager Cheryl Hinson and Pink Hill Elementary cafeteria manager Nivea Mosley.

“We were excited to receive a bronze designation,” Jones said, “but next year we are going for the gold.”

Eight people in a line have their photo taken with two people in the middle holding an award