“We’ll have illuminated [LED] menu boards and we used to have chalk boards,” Morris said. “... We’ll have a cyber cafe [theme] with a hot spot where kids can charge their phones because they’ll be allowed to have their phones on in the lunchroom only.”
Principal Steven Butler previously said CHS will take on a bring-your-own-technology motto in upcoming years, allowing students to implement their personal technology, such as tablet computers, at school.
Morris said the intent of adding items like whole-fruit juices at the upcoming juice station and advertising the items in an attractive way to teenagers is to encourage better eating habits. In 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture will enforce a myriad of changes in the lunchroom.
According to a press release from USDA, any food sold in schools must be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product or a protein food; or be a combination food that contains at least one-fourth cup of fruit or vegetable; or contain 10 percent of the Daily Value of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which includes calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber.
The guidelines also will call for substitutions, like replacing cookies with peanuts, donuts with low-fat tortilla chips and cola with no-calorie flavored water.
“I’m sure these things are better for kids, but by the time they get in high school ... they know what they want to eat,” Morris said. “I was having a conversation with my cafeteria manager and some of the kids overheard it and said ... ‘If we can’t get [particular foods], we’ll just bring them from home.’”
She added, “Their [eating] habits are formed before they ever come to me and my whole philosophy is moderation.”
The effort to meet current guidelines has paid off. Cartersville’s nutrition program recently received a certification of compliance from the USDA.
According to a press release, “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed by President Obama in 2010 required the implementation of changes in the meal pattern for school lunches and breakfasts served in cafeterias throughout the US. As an incentive to implement these changes early, HHFKA also requires that an additional 6 cents be reimbursed to school districts which certify that each meal served meets the requirements of the new meal pattern.”
However, just because food in the cafeteria may be required to be more healthy than in years past, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring, Morris said. With the option of bringing food from home or having off-campus lunch for seniors, she said being creative with presentations and options is one of the best ways to keep students interested in what the school has to offer.
“We’re going to add some more authentic Mexican dishes ... and they make their own burritos right now,” Morris said.
The $237,678 in upgrades is being funded by the school system’s nutrition program.