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School nutrition managers get hands-on with healthy foods

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JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - Nutrition managers from all across the state are in Onslow County this week picking up some tricks of the trade on how to make school lunches both healthier and tastier.

The North Carolina K-12 Culinary Institute holds workshops like these all over the state, allowing school chefs and cafeteria workers the chance to bring back some fresh ideas to their respective school systems in the fall. The event in Onslow County was held at Northside High School this week, and similar events will allow more than 400 school employees to benefit from the training this summer.

"We're working with some new recipes that are using fresh produce (and) we've got some farm-to-school recipes as well," chef instructor Kelly Waldron said. "The participants are here today to kind of reinvigorate and get ready for the next school year."

Southwest High School cafeteria manager Jennifer Deering said the workshop gives her ideas on how she can go above and beyond for the students she serves.

"I actually gave them a survey and I said 'hey! Three questions,'" Deering said. "Be realistic because we gotta follow guidelines, but what do you wanna see, what could we do better?"

Deering said some of the student responses - a desire for fresh salad options, for example - lined up with some of the things she's learning this week.

"They've asked for things you wouldn't think that they would ask for," she said, adding she wants to overcome the stigma that school lunches can't be good.

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