School receives grant for cafeteria equipment

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Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education has received a grant to improve serving equipment in the school cafeteria.

According to R. Nicole Guzman, child nutrition director at the school, the $61,300 grant is from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s child nutrition program.

“With that grant, we are going to buy new serving lines,” Guzman said. “The current servings we have, one is from 1993 and the other is 1985, so we are going to have brand-new serving lines.”

A serving line consists of the wells used to keep food hot or cold when children are being served meals at the school.

“We served about 1,030 (children daily) last year; however, we are becoming a high school in the next year or so, and we will be having more students to serve,” Guzman said.

Sallie B. Howard High School for the Arts and Science is currently under construction and scheduled to open for students in the fall of 2020.

“Currently, on our older serving lines, we didn’t have the cold wells, so we constantly had to replace the cold with ice,” Guzman said. “It will be more efficient and effective for my staff. They won’t have to be going back putting ice in the serving line. We also were approved to get under-counter refrigeration so my staff doesn’t have to go back and forth to the refrigerators. They can just turn right around and take out the cold condiments or the lettuce or tomatoes. It is a lot safer for them so they won’t slip and fall, and it’s more efficient for them as well.”

Guzman has about 10 child nutrition workers.

Within the last two years, the cafeteria has undergone major renovations to replace floors, remove asbestos, repaint and replace seating and dining tables and install walk-in freezer and walk-in refrigeration units and a dishwasher for the kitchen.

“It wasn’t an expansion for our kitchen, so our kitchen is still a little on the smaller side as far as serving,” Guzman said. “However, we make it work.”

Guzman said the plan is to have meal service on a staggered entry with kindergarten through eighth grade having breakfast between 7 and 7:45 a.m., and the high school students having breakfast an hour later.

Guzman said the cafeteria still stresses serving homestyle meals

“I still do a lot of homestyle cooking, so we don’t have a lot of out-of-the-box, processed foods,” Guzman said. “Most of the time my staff is cooking from 6 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon, so the cooking is constant.”

Guzman said the new stainless steel equipment will arrive July 25.

“The previous ones were kind of short, so we had to have my shorter staff on the shorter line, so we will have the taller staff on a little bit taller line,” Guzman said. “This one is going to be the middle school serving line so the children are going to be taller.”

“My staff cannot wait,” Guzman said.