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Four N.C. School Districts Honored for Top Summer Nutrition Programs

The following is a press release from NC Public Schools


Four North Carolina public school districts won state-level recognition this week from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for providing high quality summer nutrition programs serving children. The districts received “Turnip the Beet Awards” for providing appealing and nutritious summer meals featuring locally grown ingredients, soliciting and incorporating student input into menus, and encouraging healthy eating.

The four districts were honored during the annual SummerPalooza! Summit hosted virtually today and Thursday by NCDPI. The awardees are:

  • Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools – Gold State Level Turnip the Beet Award
  • Halifax County Schools – Gold State Level Turnip the Beet Award
  • Brunswick County Schools – Silver State Level Turnip the Beet Award
  • Union County Public Schools – Silver State Level Turnip the Beet Award

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 that children are receiving high-quality meals that are both nutritious and appetizing. Awards are given at three levels – gold, silver and bronze.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said the four districts deserve special praise for demonstrating strong commitment and service to children, especially during a summer impacted by the continuing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The benefits of summer meals programs just can’t be overstated,” Truitt said. “Thousands of children across North Carolina rely on this critical service, which depends on the dedication and passion of outstanding sponsors.”

Cynthia Ervin, section chief for Summer and Special Nutrition Programs with NCDPI, said that it takes school and community partners working together to address childhood hunger.

“The sponsors honored with these awards recognize the crucial need they fill and have truly gone above and beyond to ensure children are well nourished, ready to learn and on the path to success,” Ervin said.

Awardees 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. Sponsors also conduct taste tests with the children and incorporate their feedback into the menus and offer nutrition education activities along with the meals. All Summer Nutrition Program sponsors are encouraged to apply for the awards.

Sponsors may be self-nominated or nominated by a third party such as a community partner. All state award nominations have been submitted to USDA for evaluation for recognition at the national level. USDA is expected to announce national level winners in early spring 2022.

Summer Nutrition Programs, administered by NCDPI’s School Nutrition Division, serve nutritious meals at no cost to children up to age 18 living in economically distressed areas, where at least 50% of students qualify for no-cost or reduced-price school meals. Programs may operate in schools, public housing centers, playgrounds, camps, parks, libraries, faith-based facilities, and other community sites.

Summer Nutrition Programs in the state served almost 21.4 million meals to children and teens last summer.

Additional information regarding the state-level awards and N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs can be found on the website of NCDPI’s School Nutrition Division. Agencies or organizations interested in sponsoring programs during the summer of 2022 should complete the SFSP Pre-Screening Tool. Upon completion of the pre-screening tool, a Summer Nutrition Program consultant will be in contact.

NCDPI’s School Nutrition Services Section administers Summer Nutrition Programs with federal funding assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For questions regarding N.C. Summer Nutrition Programs, contact NCDPI Summer and Special Nutrition Programs Section Chief Cynthia Ervin.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)    mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)    fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)    email: program.intake@usda.gov.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

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