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New kitchen equipment will provide healthier meals for Picayune elementary school students

Two schools in the Picayune School District will be receiving new kitchen equipment that will improve the nutritional quality of daily meals served by those cafeterias.

Nicholson Elementary and Roseland Park Elementary will be removing their deep fryers to make room for combination oven steamers, which will provide healthier meals for students by making use of lower-fat cooking methods.

To secure funding for the new equipment, Picayune School District Food Service Director Debra Byrd applied for the Nutrition Integrity grant from the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition. Through this grant, the district was awarded $18,000.

The Nutrition Integrity grant is funded by the Bower Foundation and provides 50 percent of the cost to purchase the ovens. The district is responsible for the other half of the funding.

In a press release provided by Picayune School District, Byrd said the ovens will cook food with less fat, trans fat and saturated fat.

“Since school meals are such an important way to ensure that our children are fit, healthy, and ready to succeed, we want the foods we serve to be as nutritious and appealing as possible,” said Byrd in the release.

Byrd said the ovens prepare food quickly and the healthier products taste great.

The maintenance department is working on preparations required for installation, and once the ovens are installed, Byrd said parents will be invited for an open house to sample the new and improved menu.

Picayune Junior High School and West Side Elementary already have these ovens installed; Byrd applied for the same grant two years ago and used those funds to obtain the equipment.

The new oven steamers are part of the ongoing measures the district is taking to improve the overall health and wellness of its students.