Halifax County Schools Child Nutrition Department won state-level recognition recently from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for providing high-quality summer nutrition programs serving children.

According to a press release, the district received the “Gold State Level Turnip the Beet Award” for providing appealing and nutritious summer meals featuring locally grown ingredients, soliciting and incorporating student input into menus, and encouraging healthy eating.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Turnip the Beet Awards to showcase Summer Nutrition Program sponsors that go above and beyond to ensure children are receiving high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing. Awards are given at three levels — gold, silver and bronze. Halifax County Schools was one of four school districts in the state of North Carolina to receive the award. Additionally, Halifax County Schools was one of two school districts that were awarded gold.

Halifax County Schools showcase their excellence by offering a variety of vegetables and fruits, serving whole grains and low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products, featuring locally grown ingredients, serving culturally appropriate meals and providing water at all meals and snacks, the release reads.

The child nutrition department also conducts taste tests with the children and incorporates their feedback into the menus and offers nutrition education activities along with the meals.

Superintendent Eric Cunningham said, “I am so proud of our Child Nutrition Department for their ongoing efforts in providing quality, healthy and nutritious meals to our scholars.”

Director of Child Nutrition Joseph Otranto said, “I have the privilege of leading the hardest working team of child nutrition professionals in North Carolina. At Halifax County Schools we strive to be a lighthouse, a beacon of hope for our students and community. In planning for the 2021 Summer Meals Program, we wanted to recover our farming initiative and enhance our meals for students and the community.”

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