School Kitchen Works to Reduce Waste

(From left) Chad Johnson, Alaina Wright, Hilary Dixson, Robyn Dyer, and Lori Anderson, kitchen staff at The Learning Center Charter School, work diligently to reduce waste at the school. This fun crew also goes above and beyond to provide a fun dining experience as seen by the Luau they threw for lunch last May.

The Learning Center Charter School knows that good nutrition is the very foundation for building better students.  The school also knows that reducing waste is equally as important for the planet.

For all meals at the charter school, students eat healthy, freshly prepared foods served on real china and silverware. All meals are eaten family style and the school uses as much food from local sources as possible.

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.

In addition to the emphasis of healthy eating, Hilary Dixson, Child Nutrition Director at the school, is equally dedicated to the reduction of waste in the school’s food program.  This focus includes reducing wasted food as well as wasted resources.

Kitchen staff has reworked recipes to reduce general food waste which include items on the daily salad bar. With the “offer vs. serve” approach, students get to choose items they prefer to eat rather than food being plated and wasted.  The school adheres to federal and state guidelines that require some food must be plated regardless of preference.

“We take waste reduction seriously around here,” said Dixson. “For example, our previous use of to-go paper cups has been eliminated to cut back on waste. Reusable water cups and real coffee mugs, in my opinion, change the mood on campus and make school a homier place to be.”

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