Farm to School Produce at The Learning Center Charter School

Offering well prepared, healthy food that nourishes students is a cornerstone of the educational environment at The Learning Center Charter School.  Using locally grown produce is icing on the cake.

The charter school is part of the NC Farm to School program which affords the school ample opportunity and access to healthy North Carolina produce.

The NC Farm to School program is run through the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Food Distribution.  During the 2011-12 school year, the NC Farm to School program delivered over one million dollars worth of NC produce to NC schools, reaching 1,003,921 students in 1,599 schools.

NC Farm to School gives North Carolina farms a viable market for their crops while providing schools a local source of fresh, seasonal produce.  Produce includes watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, apples, cucumbers, red potatoes, grape tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, romaine lettuce, apple slices, collards, sweet potatoes, strawberries, squash, zucchini and blueberries.

Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the school, said, “The Farm to School program not only provides easy access to foods grown locally but also opportunities for agriculture, nutrition and health education.”

Ehlers added that when a student makes the connection between agriculture and food, they realize that food comes from a farmer and not magically from the grocery store.   

“Nutrition education is a key part of our mission at our school,” said Ehlers. “Our students tend vegetable gardens on campus and the produce we buy from local farmers through this program reinforces the lessons we teach daily.”

Want to know more about the nutrition program at The Learning Center Charter School? Fill out the form below and we will get in touch with you!

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National School Lunch Week Oct 14th – 18th

Did you know that the week of October 14-18th is National School Lunch Week? It is!

To celebrate, our nutrition staff is planning a week of “cultural tastings”.  New foods and recipes will be introduced to students from around the world. Some of these new items will become regular features on our breakfast and lunch menus as well.

Do you want to know more about our awesome nutrition program? Fill out the form below and we will be in contact!

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Nutrition High Priority at The Learning Center

Nutrition High Priority at The Learning Center Charter School

The Learning Center Charter School knows that good nutrition is the very foundation for building better students.

Over the years, the school has won numerous awards and recognition by the NC Department of Public Instruction for its dedication to maintaining the highest standards in child nutrition including Award of Excellence, Breakfast Champion Award, as well as the Silver Level Award from USDA HealthierUS School Challenge Program, and the Twentieth Annual “Best Practice Awards” in the categories of National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Food Distribution Program from the Southeast Regional Office of the USDA.

Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the school, notes that for the first time this fall, Montessori preschool students on the charter school campus will be offered meals through the school.

“We are excited that our Montessori preschool students will be eating the same delicious, nutritious meals that our kindergarten through eighth grade students have always enjoyed,” said Ehlers.

Breakfast will be served in the Dining Commons while lunch and snacks will be served directly to the Montessori classroom using the school’s moveable hotbox for delivery.

Ehlers added that she and the nutrition staff have great new menus lined up for the new school year that include some new and exciting foods. The nutrition team already has several weeks planned focusing on a food cultural exchange where foods from different parts of the world are served.  “Offering foods from different cultures helps broaden our students’ taste bud horizons,” said Ehlers.

Click or tap here to learn more about the importance of nutrition at The Learning Center Charter School.

Lunch Delivered With Fun!

The Learning Center! Charter School has a long history of dedication to good nutrition and believes it is the cornerstone for building better students. With that high priority and commitment, it’s no surprise the school has won multiple awards over the years.

But, did you know that Chad Johnson, a member of our school nutrition support team, has an extensive collection of hats that he wears each day to school? You might now know  . . . but I bet your student does!

Thanks for keeping us smiling,  Chad!

National School Breakfast Week & Celebrating Dr. Seuss

Studies indicate that students who eat breakfast increase their math and reading scores and improve their cognitive speed and memory, according to the Food Research and Action Center.  Students who are “fueled up” with a nutritious meal increase the chances that their mental and physical stamina is up to par for a great day at school.

 

The Learning Center Charter School celebrated National School Breakfast Week March 5th-9th both as a means to recognize the importance of this meal and to increase awareness of the school’s Early Bird Breakfast Club.

The Learning Center’s Early Bird Breakfast Club begins at 7:15am daily. The nutrition staff offers up both hot and cold breakfast options as well as cereal, fruit, yogurt and milk. The program was the first in the state to win the Breakfast Champion Award in 2012.  Additionally, the program has received two grants – one from No Kid Hungry North Carolina/Share Our Strength, and another from Action for Healthy Kids School Grants for Healthy Kids.

 

As part of the week long breakfast celebration, the school marked the birthday of literary giant, Dr. Seuss. Kitchen staff wore Seuss costumes, the Dining Commons was decked out in Seuss colors and decorations and students were served green eggs and ham.

School Child Nutrition Director, Hilary Dixson, said, “Offering well prepared, healthy food that nourishes our young learners is a cornerstone of our educational environment. National School Breakfast Week was a way to teach the importance of eating a nutritious breakfast and the silly costumes and green eggs and ham made it fun and memorable for our students.”

Learning Center Nutrition Professional Participates in K-12 Culinary Institute

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Jamie Chapman, from The Learning Center! Charter School participated in a K-12 Culinary Institute regional workshop in Cherokee, NC in August. The goal is to enhance culinary skills and improve student health, well-being and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school.

School nutrition managers from across the state are participating in the North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute. Jamie Chapman, from The Learning Center! Charter School participated in a K-12 Culinary Institute regional workshop August 2nd – 4th, 2016 at Cherokee Central Elementary School. The N.C. K-12 Culinary Institute, designed to enhance nutrition offerings, is funded by a U.S. Department of AgricultureProfessional Standards Training Grant received by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition Section.

“The K-12 Culinary Institute is a unique opportunity for school nutrition professionals to enhance culinary skills and glean tools and information critical to their important roles in providing quality, nutritious school meals,” said Susan Blomeley, director for The Learning Center School Nutrition Program.

The face-to-face and virtual institute was developed by the NCDPI, School Nutrition Section, and Chef Cyndie Story’s K-12 Culinary Team, in order to meet five core objectives:

–  Improve student health, well-being and academic success through nutritious, appealing meals at school,

–  Increase participation in high quality, enticing school nutrition programs,

–  Expand capacity of local school nutrition programs to purchase, prepare and serve fresh, locally grown produce,

–  Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain-rich foods, and

–  Provide continuing education opportunities for school nutrition personnel.

North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute graduates become chef ambassadors prepared to teach other school nutrition professionals at the local level.

The Learning Center has a long history of placing an emphasis on good nutrition as part of its overall mission – growing some of its own food for educational purposes that provide activities that support the E-STEAM curriculum (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

The Learning Center! Offers Rich Program Across All Districts

The Learning Center! Charter School continues to break ground with innovations that present parents and their students with high-quality offerings in 21st century education. Ambitious facility improvements, including a newly renovated dining commons, are designed for rich academic opportunities on this “future-ready” campus.

The Learning Center! offers an E-STEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts/Agriculture, and Math) learning environment. The school’s education philosophy includes the belief that all young learners have the right to experience a broad, rich, and rigorous range of academics during the formative K-8 years. Additionally, the school offers an award-winning nutrition program, daily P.E., unique electives and extra-curricular opportunities. The school’s emphasis on healthy living, community involvement and high academic standards is designed to produce future-ready citizens. This tuition-free public charter school (K-8th) has NO district restrictions and accepts students across all counties.

Director Mary Jo Dyre is particularly proud to announce a Kindergarten Montessori Blend Program. “We have had such consistent, strong success with the feeder Montessori Program that is located on our school campus, that we wanted to continue the Montessori Method into Kindergarten, which we believe works best for young learners.”

Learning Center’s “Above and Beyond” programs include Compacted Math classes for gifted students, “Music Friday” guest musicians program, K-4 chorus, links to a variety of instrument lessons, a highly developed drama program. New this year is the upper grade’s CREW Program that promotes character development, goal setting and responsible behaviors.

More extras including National Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind teams, “Academics and the Arts” artists-in-residency program, “Mini and Middle REAL” young entrepreneur program, Writers Club, “Girls on the Run” and “Girls on Track” provide students with the possibility to become all they can be.

Designated as a “USDA Healthier U.S. School” (Silver Level), The Learning Center! places a strong emphasis on its nutrition and exercise programs. The school is proud to announce it’s free breakfast and lunch program available for ALL students.

The Learning Center! serves approximately 200+ students and is open to both in and out-of-county students. There is no tuition for grades K through 8th. The school also features a Montessori private preschool serving ages 3-5 years. After School programs are available for all ages. Summer Enrichment Programs such as “Inventors Camp” and Intervention programs are also offered.

For more information or to schedule a tour, call 828.835.7240. Visit www.naturallygrownkids.org, their blog (tlcgrowzone.org/blog) and FaceBook page (facebook.com/TLCGrowZonePage).

Did you see the awesome Dining Commons renovations?

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Over the summer, the Dining Commons underwent some much needed renovation. The roof was replaced, gutters were added, it was power washed, painted, drywall was installed where needed inside, and painted. These renovations ensure the structure remains protected from the elements and that our students can continue to use this integral space for many years to come.

20160622_142334 20160712_133101 20160712_133116 pressurewash1 pressurewash2 Resized_20160614_105508 roof progress- June 15, 2016

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By now you have seen the new Early Bird Breakfast mural adorning the building as well. Be on the lookout for further murals decorating the Gymnatorium in the future.

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.

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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