Staff Photos: Erin Evans Newton County schools are celebrating school lunches and cafeteria workers this week in honor of National School Lunch Week. Pictured is Cyndi O'Neal scooping beans into small containers for the students at Flint Hill Elementary School on Wednesday for lunch.
COVINGTON -- Make sure to eat your lunch at school this week -- it's time to celebrate it.
The Newton County School System has joined the nationwide celebration to honor school lunch and school food services staff members during National School Lunch Week, which started Monday and will end Friday.
"National School Lunch Week is an opportunity for us to promote healthy locally- and Georgia-grown foods to focus on the commitment that the school nutrition employees have to the health and education of the NCSS students," said Jan Loomans, director of Operational Services at NCSS.
This year's national theme is "School Lunch -- Let's Grow Healthy."
"The goal is to help students understand where food comes from while highlighting the benefit that school lunch helps kids grow strong and healthy," Loomans said. "This also gives us the chance to provide an item that may be new to some students."
Schools served sweet potatoes and Gala apples this week to show students what types of foods are grown in Georgia.
"Over 60 percent of students are classified as economically disadvantaged and would not have a lunch if we did not have a school lunch program," Loomans said. "Research has shown conclusively that students who are hungry have more classroom behavior issues and are not able to learn as readily as students who are not hungry."
She said school meals offer a third of the daily nutrient intake for seven key nutrients -- calories, protein, calcium, vitamins a and c, iron and fat.
Last school year, NCSS served more than 2.6 million lunches, nearly 1.2 million breakfasts and more than 93,000 snacks at eleven schools. The program employees almost 200 individuals.