BCS Advantage Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 13

A National Leader in School Nutrition By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Department According to the USDA, a Buncombe County School is one of the nation’s healthiest places to learn. BCS is receiving attention at the highest levels for its commitment to providing students with high quality food, excellent service, health education, and proper nutrition. This fall, the system’s School Nutrition Department led the charge in earning 42 awards of excellence — one for every school — from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only 91 such awards were given nationwide this year. “It is a great honor and privilege to serve the students of Buncombe County Schools,” said Lisa C. Payne, Child Nutrition director. “Our School Nutrition Professionals continue to impress me daily, as they work diligently to ensure that our students are fed nutritious and palatable meals.” In September 2017, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) informed Ms. Payne that every BCS school will be recognized through the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchroom awards program. Of the nearly 100,000 public schools nationwide, these local schools in Buncombe County join the 2,983 lauded by the USDA program since 2004. Furthermore, as of Sept. 28, 2017, only 31 schools nationwide had ever received a Gold Award of Distinction. That same fall, BCS received 8. Through the Smarter Lunchroom challenge, the USDA recognizes schools that go above and beyond federal requirements to create nutritious environments for students. According to the USDA, schools are commended for “their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices and being physically active, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies.” The program is about supporting schools as they guide students toward smarter choices. “We have long known the connection between a healthy lifestyle and academic success,” said superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin. “I am proud to work among such committed educators and staff in the School Nutrition Department; their recognition is well deserved.” Students at Valley Springs Middle enjoy a nutritious lunch from their school’s salad bar. “Buncombe County strives to be a leader in the nation by creating healthier school environments through promotion of smarter lunchrooms, nutrition, and physical activity,” Payne said. 11