JOHNSTON COUNTY – To recognize the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 30 million children each day, Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) celebrated National School Lunch Week from October 9-13, 2023. The fun and creative campaign theme, “Level Up with School Lunch,” highlights the importance of a healthy school lunch to a student’s success, both in and out of the classroom.
Research shows children are getting their healthiest meals at school. National School Lunch Week highlighted the nutritious foods available daily at JCPS. The district offers a variety of customizable entree options, local fresh produce, and, of course, every student’s favorite, pizza!
“School lunches offer students fruits and vegetables, whole grains and milk, and meet federal nutrition standards limiting fat, calories and sodium,” said JCPS Director of School Nutrition Services Jennifer Lawson.
This year, the School Nutrition department celebrated at Benson Middle, joined by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), and members of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Some of the notable attendees include Mr. Willie Taylor, Regional Administrator at US Department of Agriculture/Food and Nutrition Services (USDA FNS); Dr. Lilly I. Bouie, Southeast Region Division Director of Special Nutrition Programs; Kim Betton, USDA FNS Southeast Regional Public Affairs Director; Veronica Bryant, USDA FNS Southeast Regional Office, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Victoria Homich, Section Chief, Office of NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) School Nutrition; and Dana Edwards, Operations and Program Management Consultant, Office of NCDPI School Nutrition.
The event included a NC State Fair inspired menu, featuring a whole grain donut burger that received positive feedback from students and staff. The fun atmosphere included listening to themed music, playing a variety of games, and taking pictures with Mario, Louigie, Princess Peach, and Yoshi in the “Level Up” photo booth. Each student was able to take home a polaroid picture from the event, and the Carolina Mudcats mascot even joined in for the celebration.
The federally funded National School Lunch Program (NSLP) has been fueling students for success for 77 years. JCPS participates in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program that provides breakfast and lunch at no cost to the household to all school sites with the exception of five non-eligible sites. Families of students from the five non-eligible sites are still invited to complete a free and reduced meal application.
“National School Lunch Week helps us educate parents and students about all the wonderful benefits of our lunch program,” Lawson said.