North Carolina ranks seventh in the United States for teen obesity, and rural areas are more prone to obesity due to poverty, demographics and nutrition.
With the Pitt County Schools staff seeing children’s unhealthy eating habits firsthand, they’re working to get more students to eat their free and reduced lunch.
K12 culinary expert chefs trained nutrition staff and cooks Wednesday with the goal of increasing healthy eating.
They learned new recipes for school lunches and knife skills, all in hopes to get more students eating healthier balanced meals.
“We want to make sure that the food we’re offering our students is wholesome, edible and nutritious for them and that they want it,” said Gretchen Wilson, Pitt County Schools nutrition director. “So we’ve got to make sure it looks good tastes good and prepared correctly.”
The school district is making school lunch and breakfast more appealing to students by adding new menu items like yogurts, parfaits and hummus trays.
“We started doing smoothies in our high school this year,” said Wilson. “They are loved. It is all yogurt, fruit and milk, that’s it. We have salmon coming up in March so we’re going to have salmon in our schools so we’re excited for that. We’ve started bento boxes this past year”
And students are already enjoying the new options.
“I like the bento boxes,” said Ashlyn Harris, a third grader. “…I like the apples a lot in the bento boxes ”
Pitt County Schools has 52 percent of students registered for free or reduced lunch prices.
In December, they fed 25 percent of those students breakfast.
And they’re always looking for more students to feed.
“You know if your child eats with us, they’re going to get a healthy meal, and it’s going to get them through the day,” Wilson.