How we celebrated National School Lunch Week

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.

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.”

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