Nutrition staff went all out for students on April Fool’s Day and celebrated by creating a brand new “holiday” they dubbed “Merry Thanksgas Val Patrick Fool’s Day!” They dressed equally goofy for the fictitious holiday as part of their ongoing effort to keep school fun and engaging during the pandemic.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program is a collaboration between the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Instruction and is authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The P-EBT program helps families with eligible children whose access to meals or buying food has been impacted by COVID-19.
Keep your P-EBT cards as more funds may be distributed.
Covid-19 changed the way food was served at The Learning Center Charter School for the first part of the 2020-21 school year. However, the school has made improvements that mean students will see a return to more of what they are used to for the remainder of the year.
The charter school serves breakfast and lunch to approximately 200 students daily. Prior to the pandemic restrictions, food was served via a serving line that offered both hot and cold options.
“The serving line will continue to work similarly to how it has in past years with a few changes,” said Hilary Ehlers, Nutrition Director at the school.
Ehlers explained that meals are served off the hot bar all while keeping social distancing in place. Students and staff are separated by Plexiglas windows across the entire hot bar. At the end of the line students receive their meal through a window in the Plexiglas. Before being served their milk of choice at the beginning of the line, students must sanitize their hands. Then one by one students receive their meals. Markers are placed on the floor to help students visualize the six foot distance they need to space between one another. The meals are packaged in a to go box and are taken back to the classroom to eat.
“Students will still receive the amazing and nutritious food as they have in past school years. Plus, our friendly nutrition staff will still be there to greet each student and ask about their day and give students a sense of normalcy at school again,” said Ehlers.
New menu items have been added including catfish po-boy sandwiches and chicken and cheese quesadillas. “Healthy food doesn’t have to come at the expense of great flavor,” said Ehlers.
The Learning Center Charter School Nutrition Department is excited to announce that the USDA has extended the summer free school meals waivers through the 2020-2021 school year.
The extension of the summer feeding waivers not only allows all students to eat school meals at no charge, but they also help ensure that nutrition programs have flexibility and adaptability when it comes to meal service during unanticipated closures.
The charter school nutrition program will continue to offer families that have elected complete virtual learning the option to do curbside pick-up of meals.
“It remains critical our students continue to receive healthy and nutritious food as our community continues to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the school.
Ehlers added that the waiver extension allows her team to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic.
“We are happy to see more and more of our students’ smiling faces during the lunch time as well as at curbside pick-up,” said Ehlers.
Ehlers added, “We would like to give a very special thank you to Dr. Lynn Harvey, Director of School Nutrition and District Operations for North Carolina, for all of her hard work in making sure these extensions and free meals to all children became a reality.”
Third graders recently enjoyed DIY microwave popcorn grown in the TLC garden. An heirloom breed called pappys gems was grown and students microwaved it simply in a brown paper bag avoiding the chemicals often included in microwave popcorn. A science lesson with a snack was a hit for all!
Our nutrition staff always provides a fun dining experience for our students. Thanksgiving was no exception!
National School Lunch Week was October 14-18th and The Learning Center Charter School celebrated with a cultural culinary exploration each day for lunch.
The National School Lunch Program serves more than 30 million children every school day. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy created National School Lunch Week to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch and the impact it has inside and outside of the classroom. During the annual weeklong celebration, schools across the country celebrate in their cafeterias with special menus and events.
Hilary Ehlers, Child Nutrition Director at the charter school, decided that this year’s celebration would be a cultural exploration of food found around the world. The nutrition staff and teachers worked together in the planning to ensure that students would learn about the highlighted global cultures while getting the opportunity to try the corresponding foods at lunchtime.
Each day a new country and its foods were presented to the students. Greece, Italy, Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean were all part of the week. Ravioli, egg rolls, fried rice, fajitas, jerk chicken, pineapple salsa and coconut rice were just some of the delicious things on the menu.
“Our goal was to introduce new foods and flavors to our students,” said Ehlers. She added that the enthusiasm about trying new foods far exceeded her expectations.
“Food is such a fundamental part of the human experience and exposing our students to cultures around the world through food has been so much fun for everyone at our school,” said Ehlers. She added that many of the new foods will become regular features on the school’s lunch menus.
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!
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!
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.