Pitt County Schools revamp food service program, offering healthier options to students

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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) The Pitt County School District has been working to revamp foodservice and nutrition programs for students this fall.

They have many new initiatives they plan to roll out.

There are 38 schools in Pitt County and more than half are a part of the CEP program. The Community Eligibility Program allows students to eat breakfast and lunch, free of charge.

The district has added four additional schools to that program: EB Aycock, CM Eppes, Ayden Grifton High School, and Bethel School.

Now, there are 22 schools a part of the program.

“It’s a good feeling to know they will have things they might not normally have, extra food and that they won’t go home hungry.”

Leigh Ann Swinson, Principal, Bethel School

The district also received additional grant funding for their Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Bethel School and ECU Lab School are new to the program. Northwest and Belvoir received the grant again this year.

The grant will provide students with free fresh fruit or vegetable as a snack twice a week. Staff with the school district hope it will encourage healthier lifestyles.

“That’s a time that we can bring in some items their parents may not have bought for them and give them some chances to try things out. And hopefully then they will take it home and want their parents to purchase it and have it on a regular basis.”

Gretchen Wilson, Director School Nutrition Director, Pitt County Schools

This grant will start Sept. 9.

The district is also trying to promote breakfast participation this year.

They are offering many new breakfast opportunities for students. Wellcome Middle will have a second chance breakfast and HB Sugg and Bundy will have a breakfast cart for third through fifth graders. Students at CM Eppes will also have an early bird, grab-and-go breakfast opportunity at their bus and car lines.

Many schools also received new serving lines this year. Those schools include Chicod, Grifton, Farmville Middle, Wintergreen Intermediate, and Wellcome.

Also, cafeteria staff has received new chef-style uniforms and a new name. The kitchen staffing department will be referred to as School Nutrition Services.

Cafeteria manager at Bethel Schools, Sophia Simms, says she has seen a lot of changes in the last five years at the school. However, she is most excited about the changes this year.

“It really means a lot to me knowing that when the children come through they are going to have a nutritious lunch of fruits and vegetables.”

Sophia Simms / Cafeteria Manager, Bethel School – School Nutrition Services,

Students can also expect many healthy new food options this year as well.

There will be new Bento-protein boxes with a boiled egg and taco-flavored hummus. The district is also bringing back homemade smoothies once a week for high school students.

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