Free Breakfast AND Lunch to ALL Students

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Everyone knows the importance of a good breakfast. Bottom line, students who are “fueled up” with a nutritious meal are increasing the chances that their mental and physical stamina is up to par for a great day at school.

The Learning Center! Charter School joins more than 18,000 schools across the nation with assistance from a federal program called, Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP allows schools in low-income areas to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students while eliminating the traditional school meal application process.

Authorized as a part of Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, CEP eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meal programs and reduces the potential stigma associated with free meals. No household application means less paperwork for parents, and no worries about lunch accounts.

“For the school it means reduced paperwork and administrative costs,” said Susan Blomeley, Nutrition Director at The Learning Center. “There is no need to track unpaid meal charges and more nourished students are ready to learn and grow.”

The Learning Center’s Early Bird Breakfast Club was created in an effort to give every opportunity for all students to eat a healthy breakfast. Since early 2000, The Learning Center! Charter School has offered a Universal Breakfast where all students eat for free. The big news this year is that all students will now get a free lunch in addition to the free breakfast. The school will not take free and reduced applications this year, as all students will eat free.

Why Do Students at TLC Garden?

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Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty.  Why?  Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.

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Back in May, Pre-K students harvested the sugar snap peas they planted in the terrace gardens. They got to taste them and, although unsure at first, they discovered they were delicious!

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Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum.

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Before school let out for summer break, these fourth graders helped in the garden by picking off Colorado potato beetles on the potato plants, pulling weeds and pruning our kale trees.

Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.

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The beautification of our campus is a happy result of hands on learning!

Stone Ground Grits Part of Early Bird Breakfast Club

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Nutrition Director, Susan Blomeley, is seen proudly displaying House-Autry Stone Ground Grits.

Did you know that TLC specifically sourced whole grain grits to serve at breakfast? House-Autry Stone Ground Grits are made the old fashioned way using granite stones. They grind the whole kernel of corn to retain the natural oils and produce a more flavorful product. TLC Nutrition Director, Susan Blomeley, likes these grits because, “These stone ground grits retain their natural germ and bran, which means they not only taste better, but also retain the antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber usually lost in the refinement process.”

As an added bonus, House-Autry is a North Carolina based company!

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Preschoolers in the Garden

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Preschool students have been exploring the great outdoors by playing in the garden at TLC!  Students went to explore the feel of garden dirt and see what kind of plants grow in cool weather in the garden.  Students became acquainted with kale and collard greens, and learned that vegetables get their vitamins from the soil.  They also learned that eating fruits and vegetables give us those same vitamins that help us grow big and strong.

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Charter School Wins Prestigious USDA Award for Nutrition Program

IMG_2543The Learning Center! Charter School has a long history of dedication to good nutrition and believes it is the very foundation for building better students. With that high priority and commitment, it’s no surprise the school has won multiple awards over the years. The latest was an impressive “Silver Level Award” banner and plaque presented to the school on May 3rd by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their “HealthierUS School Challenge” Program. The distinction also includes a $1000 cash award. The Learning Center is the only charter school in North Carolina to earn this prestigious recognition to date.

In February, the school received a congratulatory letter from First Lady, Michelle Obama for the recognition. The HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) is a certification initiative that recognizes schools for their efforts to create healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. Some of these efforts include improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies. The HealthierUS School Challenge program supports Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier school environments through these activities.

To qualify for the award, nutrition director, Susan Blomeley worked with nutrition education coordinator, Debby Intemann and curriculum coordinator, Cheryl Catuto to submit a formal application and document criteria set forth by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services. The program’s criteria reflects the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served outside of the organized school meals program. The HealthierUS Schools Program must meet additional criteria demonstrating its commitment to a healthy school environment, as well as implement a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress. Schools receiving The HealthierUS Schools award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four-year certification period.

The Learning Center, designated an “A+ Fit School” in 2010 by The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund, adds this award to numerous others over the past five years. These include recognition and awards by the USDA and the NC Dept. of Public Instruction for its dedication to maintaining the highest standards in child nutrition.

USDA Silver Award

IMG_2543In December 2014, our school was awarded the Silver Award from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of their HealthierUS School Challenge.  The Learning Center Charter School is the only charter school in North Carolina to earn this prestigious recognition to date.

The HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) is a certification initiative that recognizes schools for their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices and being physically active, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies. It supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign by recognizing schools that are creating healthier school environments through their promotion of good nutrition and physical activity.  Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the initiative encourages all schools take a leadership role in helping students to make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime.

To qualify for an award, a school must submit a formal application and meet basic criteria set forth by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services.  The HUSSC criteria reflect the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations (April 2007) for foods that should be served outside of the organized school meals program.  HealthierUS Schools must meet additional criteria demonstrating its commitment to a healthy school environment, as well as implement a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress.  Schools receiving a HUSSC award commit to meeting the criteria throughout their four year certification period.

Congratulations TLC!

 

Nutrition Tidbit

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[Today’s post is brought to you by Ann Heuer, Western Carolina University Dietetic Intern for our school.]

Using unique local food ingredients

Local produce stands and farmers markets are opening back up this month, so it’s time to get creative with unique local ingredients!

Swiss Chard- Typically available in May

Rich in Vitamin C, which helps build tissue, prevent iron deficiency, and boosts immunity. It is also rich in Vitamin K, B-vitamins, and iron, which all help maintain healthy blood cells and tissues. Try Swiss Chard in one of the following recipes:

Quick Caramelized Onions Swiss Chard

Warm Bacon Vinaigrette Swiss Chard

Fingerling Potato-Leek Hash with Swiss Chard and Eggs

Pan-Roasted Chicken, Squash, and Chard Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

Beets- Typically available in April, May, June

Beets have been show to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and have compounds that protect against cancer. Beets are also high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, as well as potassium (for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (beneficial for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets are also rich in folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects. Try local beets and sweet potatoes in the following recipe:

Sweet Potato and Beet Chips with Garlic Rosemary Salt

 

Rutabagas- Typically available starting in March

Rutabagas are an excellent source of antioxidants (protect against cell damage), fiber (for digestive health), and potassium (which has been shown to reduce blood pressure). They are also high in Vitamin C and minerals associated with strong bone tissue. Try out the following soup recipe for a warm meal that includes rutabagas:

Classic Rutabaga Soup Recipe

Ingredients Recipe Instructions
 

3 lbs beef roast

 

1 gallon of water

 

¼ tbsp. black pepper

 

6 beef bouillon cubes

 

First, trim the beef roast and cut into bite size pieces. Fill a large (12 quart) kettle with the water and pepper. Add the meat to the kettle. Turn heat to medium-high, add the beef bouillon, and begin to cook.
 

4 stalks celery

4 large carrots

 

1 small onion

 

4-5 medium potatoes

 

2 cups chopped cabbage

 

1 medium or large rutabaga

Chop up celery (including leaves at the end of the stalks), carrots, onion, potatoes, cabbage, and rutabaga, and add to the soup cooking in the kettle. Add more water for desired consistency.

 

Bring the soup to a boil, and then let simmer until all ingredients are tender.

 

Add salt/pepper or season as desired.

 

Leftovers can be reheated- this soup is even better the next day!

 

Brussels Sprouts- Typically available in June

Brussels sprouts are a good source of Vitamins B, C, and K. They contain many valuable nutrients, including manganese, fiber, choline, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. Brussels sprouts are delicious when roasted, especially with balsamic vinegar and honey in the following recipe:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey

 

For More Information

Link to NC State Produce Seasonality Chart: http://www.ncsu.edu/project/nc10percent/seasonality.php

Cedar Valley Farmers’ Market Information:

http://www.buyappalachian.org/listing/cedar-valley-farmers-market

 

Written By: Ann Heuer, Western Carolina University Dietetic Intern