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Schools review new standards for lunches



Staff Writer


Lincoln County Child Nutrition Director Byron Sackett assured the Board of Education at its meeting Wednesday night that local schools are ready and “fully compliant” with changes in cafeterias this upcoming school year.

In response to new nutritional standards for meal requirements in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, fruits, vegetables and whole grains must be incorporated into school lunches. Meals will be altered to comply with various changes in what students are being served at lunchtime in their schools, in addition to a 10-cent increase in price this year as well.

“It puts us in a tough spot,” Board Member Tommy Houser said to Sackett. “We’re telling them that the price is going up, but the amount of food is going down.”

Sackett verified that although the price is increasing, the amount of food isn’t what is changing, rather the amount of food the children want to eat. Each tray must have five components, including a fruit and vegetable, rather than a slice of pizza and a milk, which used to satisfy the number of items on a tray for a reimbursement later.

He worries that making it mandatory for children to eat healthy snacks and cut back on the “junk” foods will increase the amount of waste, which the board seemed to agree with, too. Sackett also warned of slower lines in the cafeteria, at least at first, as cafeteria staff and students get used to the new requirements.

The fruits and leafy greens the students will be putting on their trays will come from local farms, Sackett said,

“It isn’t going to be easy, but we’re going to do it and be leaders,” Sackett said.

There was discussion on reporting the results of the changes and giving feedback of local opinions to Raleigh and perhaps Washington, D.C. in the future.


Track repairs


The other action item of the night that had the board slightly divided during previous discussions that progressed to the next stages this week, are the track renovations at Lincolnton and West Lincoln high schools.

Currently, both tracks have deep cracks that are posing potential hazards for runners, especially to students at LHS. The conditions are preventing meets from being held at the school.

During track season, the Lincolnton High track team is bused to other schools, which accrues transportation costs and causes the school to lose out on concessions and other revenue perks of hosting home events.

Clayton Mullis, who had previously cast the sole dissenting vote against the renovations at last month’s Building and Site Committee meeting, asked how much West Lincoln’s track repairs would cost, but Superintendent Sherry Hoyle said she didn’t know and would report when an estimate is reached. Then the board will revisit the issue.

The board unanimously voted to give Executive Director of Facilities Darrell Gettys and his team the power to put out bids, which he will later present to the board. Once the more exact estimates are reviewed, the board will decide whether to go forward with the projects. Mullis said he is waiting to see what the bids are and will make a decision then.

Gettys’ plan is to start construction after football ends in the fall, with hopes of having usable fields for track season next spring.

The estimate for revamping the LHS track field is $300,000.


Other action


Other items on the night’s agenda:

  • Action was taken on a personnel issue during closed session that Board Chair Ed Hatley described as confidential. No information about the nature of the action was disclosed, although board attorney David Black later advised the Times-News that it did not involve the appointment or removal of an employee.
  • Two mobile units will be granted to the county to be used by the Sherriff’s Department for training purposes. The school board will declare the units as surplus, rather than just loaning the buildings to local law enforcement.
  • Sackett submitted a request to rollover the prices from bread, chemicals, grocery, ice cream and milk vendors to the 2012-2013 school year. The board gave Sackett the go ahead and approved. Sackett reported that Lincoln County has the lowest milk price in the area, with 23 cents per carton, compared to Catawba County’s 25-cent price. Because of the higher price of whole wheat as opposed to white bread, the price of pizza and other bread-based foods may go up, Sackett said.
  • Coordinator of Preschool and Before and After School Care for Lincoln County Virginia “Ginger” Thompson and program volunteer Mary Beth Avery spoke on behalf of the YMCA’s Y-Reader program and its success this year. The 23-day camp promoted literacy, while taking local children to visit places most of them had never been before.
  • The School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) representatives Prissy Helms and Belinda Branson reported on last school year’s activities, such as a program that partnered with the County Cooperative Extension office that taught children how to prepare healthy snacks. The ladies also presented the results of a wellness workshop they attended in Asheville last September, which included a recommendation for a stronger local wellness policy.

There will be no committee meetings this month, however, the Building and Site Committee will meet in September.

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