By Alexandra Hedrick, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Starting with the new school year, new federal food nutrition guidelines will be implemented in all Picayune School District schools. To help move toward healthy meals for its students, Picayune Junior High School and West Side Elementary School has received a grant to buy to new oven steamers.
The $18,000 Nutrition Integrity grant funding the purchase of the new ovens comes from the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition, said Debra Byrd, food service director for Picayune School District.
The new oven steamers will replace the deep fat fryers, which will be removed, she said.
The oven steamers are fast cooking and not like traditional convection ovens you would find in a residential home, Byrd said.
Along with the new ovens, the federal guidelines will allow for students to have more fruit and vegetable choices. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade will have a choice of six fruit and vegetable choices. High school students would get seven fruit and vegetable choices.
Each serving will have to be a minimum of three and a quarter cup for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. For high school students, it will be one and a quarter cup for each serving. Byrd said that all Picayune schools will be providing more than the minimum serving to students.
Byrd said they will be introducing more dark green, red and orange vegetables. Along with more beans and peas, as part of the new federal guidelines.
Currently Southside Elementary School bakes all of their meals. Byrd said the school district is looking to implementing the new ovens into other schools.
The grant was awarded based on the district’s percentage of students taking part in the free and reduced lunch program. Last year, the district reported 79 percent of their students participated in the free and reduced lunch program, Byrd said.
Byrd also reminds all parents to fill out and return their children’s lunch applications for the upcoming school year.